Back in August, esctoday.com revealed that the EBU had begun looking at possible changes to the voting system for the Eurovision Song Contest and that broadcasters had been sent questionnaires to complete regarding their views. Following yesterday's news that the Reference Group has approved plans to introduce a jury vote as part of the scoring system from 2009, esctoday.com contacted the EBU to ask about the changes. We asked Sietse Bakker, Head of Communications and PR for the Eurovision Song Contest, when the final procedures will be confirmed, and what other changes are possible for the event in Moscow next year.
When will the reference group finalise plans for the 2009 voting procedures?
"The group will meet in December again, in Moscow, to finalise these plans. After all, the changes have to be implemented in the rules!"
Hasthe date of the next reference group meeting been set?
"At the moment, there are several options, but the group will probably meet in the first two weeks of December."
Will the EBU provide guidelines on how jury members should be selected, or will that remain at the discretion of the individual broadcasters?
"Decisions on the exact way the juries will have to be composed will be made during the December meeting. Of course guidelines will be provided, to assure a fair voting, but to which extent is yet to be decided."
Svante Stockselius said in a statement that "in Belgrade, we saw a difference in judgment of the public and the back-up juries". Can you confirm that if this system had been implemented, it is likely that a different winner would have been chosen in 2008?
"Before the 2008 Contest, we agreed with the delegations and the juries that the un-used back-up results would not be publically revealed".
Were non-participating countries such as Austria, Italy, Monaco, Slovakia and Luxembourg sent the questionnaires and if so, did they respond?
"The questionnaire was an evaluation of the 2008 contest, and as such only sent to participating countries"
Have the non-participating countries been contacted by the EBU regarding the voting changes?
"No, but they will of course be informed at the time we send out the invitations to take part in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest"
Are there any discussions ongoing about returning to the full announcement of the 1-12 points?
"It quickly passed the table, but no concrete discussion has taken place on the topic".
Will this be discussed again in December or are discussions about any changes now dead until after Moscow 2009?
"It might be, but at the moment, I am sure that defining rules and guidelines for the national juries will be top priority of the group".
Will the non-qualifying semi final countries all present their votes live during the show as in previous years, or will their votes be added together and presented in one go?
"At the moment, there is no reason to believe the presentation of the voting will be changed. You will know for sure as soon as the 2009 rules go out!"