Peter Van de Veire, commentator for Belgian broadcaster VRT, said that having a national pre-selection show isn’t a good choice for Flanders.
In an interview with Songfestival.be, Peter Van de Veire expressed his sentiments on Belgium’s Eurovision Song Contest selection process this year. According to him, an internal selection was the right move because Flemish broadcaster VRT has “consistently failed to deliver results in Eurovision.” While he says it’s not his call, VRT is unlikely to return to a televised preselection format.
While his involvement in this year’s Eurovision selection was limited, he said that he felt positive about the process, which selected singer-songwriter Sennek to represent Belgium. He said that Sennek had full creative control over her song choice, as well as for her team of songwriters, backing vocalists and stylists.
Van de Veire also revealed that VRT, the Flemish broadcaster, and RTBF, the Walloon broadcaster, have “drifted apart” in recent years, making a joint Eurovision participation unlikely. Both broadcasters take turns organizing the Belgian Eurovision selection, with VRT taking even years and RTBF in the odd years.
But while full co-operation might not be in the cards, each broadcaster works with and learns from the other. For example, because of Wallonia’s recent success for Belgium with internally-selected acts Loïc Nottet in 2015 and Blanche in 2017, Flanders decided to do away with its own national final show.
Belgium was represented this year at the Eurovision Song Contest by Sennek, who performed the song “A Matter of Time” in the first semi-final. However, she did not qualify to Saturday night’s Grand Final. Of the last four entries selected by Flemish broadcaster VRT, only one, 2016’s Laura Tesoro with “What’s the Pressure,” made it to its year’s Grand Final.
Belgium was one of the original seven nations to participate in the first edition of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. To date, the country has won the contest only once in 1986. Sandra Kim won the contest with the song “J’aime la vie”, her victory was not without controversy when it emerged that Sandra was just 13 years old, two years younger than the age restriction at the time. In the late 00s, Belgium struggled in the contest failing to reach the final annually from 2005 until 2010, when Tom Dice finished 6th in the final with 143 points. Belgium has finished last at the contest six times, including two sets of nul points.