Junior Eurovision in Armenia: First Attempt and Lessons Learned

Nune Hakhverdyan

Art critic, journalist

The 2011 Junior Eurovision Song Contest, which took place in the Armenian capital of Yerevan, was remarkable for two reasons: first, undertaking the fairly large organizational burden was really worth it to understand the technical considerations of such large-scale filming and live broadcasts, and second, we should have realized that our own strengths are in need of review. 

If we put aside the festive element of the competition (advertising for the contest in Armenia was quite modest) and the national pathos (which was mainly circulated around the “unprecedented magnificent show”), then as a television product, the Junior Eurovision contest was of good quality. Of course we’re not talking about the concert hall’s scattered, dilapidated boxes or the damaged curtains appearing on the screen, or one of the host’s blunders that generated laughter, but about the quality of filming.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) had dispatched to Yerevan an enormous amount of equipment and specialists who knew how to operate this equipment. A precisely calculated plan was drafted, which, being meticulously developed, excluded the possibility of any technical errors. Almost mathematical drafts were drawn up for each camera operator, director and for different assistants. Being present in the concert hall, one could notice how seriously, coolly and with dedication the specialists who had come to Armenia from different European states (mainly Sweden) were working. 

In this huge set-up, each had his own small place and position (scene by scene, second by second, they did that which had to be done to ensure the full effect). And even the smallest and thankless task was done with great responsibility. And by the way, without any show of ostentation.


And here you unwittingly understand that at the basis of good work is a paradox: you don’t know what is important — the love toward one’s own profession or professionalism. In any case, being professional in the TV sector means to be a small component of the team (a “nail,” if you will), and it is in preparing that nail (the small task) that makes you a champion. And not, say, the future owner of a nail factory.


A key figure among the European staff at the Junior Eurovision contest was the Swedish actor-singer, who, not appearing on screen, ensured the “warm”  atmosphere in the concert hall. In between performances by the contestants, she sang, joked, straightened the costumes of the young singers, said a few sweet words and promptly guided the audience’s emotions. It seems as if she was specially selected to inspire. Now imagine the same work carried out by an Armenian singer or actor — and that not during her own show. This is not possible, since pretenses and thinking highly of oneself wouldn’t allow our “stars” to come down from their pedestals and do such invisible work.

Thinking highly of oneself generally is a very funny thing. Particularly in show business.

Of course, Junior Eurovision host Avet Barseghyan is not to blame — that he doesn’t speak English very well and is forced to make several mistakes as he reads what’s written on the piece of paper in front of him. Unlike his co-host, Gohar Gasparyan (who quite naturally and skillfully commented on what was happening on stage), Avet Barseghyan’s remarks caused uncertainty. Many were asking: what language is this guy speaking?


A question arises: why has Armenia’s Public TV (H1), as the organizer of the contest, decided to put on display the not knowing of the English language, and thereby discrediting this contest, itself and also, us all?

If we have brought to Armenia top quality people and equipment, then why couldn’t we have ensured our own presence to be of proportionate quality? All we were able to muster was something akin to the usual radio station award ceremony; meanwhile, it was enough to make a beautiful and English-speaking child a host, to prove that we have potential. 

Thank god our wealth is our children, who are unconstrained and not pretentious, basically. 

One more observation: it was noticeable that the broadcast image was quite unclear and off, though the lighting equipment in the hall was quite exceptional for Armenia (the word “exceptional” is appropriate here since we simply don’t have the sort of arsenal of equipment that was brought in from outside). The reason for the poor image was the poor quality of H1’s satellite broadcast. 

Nune Hakhverdyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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