German broadcaster NDR has today published on the internet the names and biographies of the five music industry experts that will comprise the country's national jury at the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. The five people will be responsible for 50% of the country's voting at the competition. The move has sparked fears of the potential for competing parties to contact the jurors in an attempt to influence their votes.
For the first time since 2002, The Eurovision Song Contest voting will include a jury vote. The jury for each country must be made up of professionals from the music industry. Their vote will be worth 50% of the national result, with the remaining 50% provided by a televote across each country.
In 2002, the rules of the Eurovision Song Contest where a 50-50 split between televote and jury was applied, state clearly that "The names of the members of the jury may not be disclosed until the day after the Contest Final".
In the 2009 rules, those governing the back-up jury clearly states that "The names of the members of the Juries may not be disclosed until the end of the Grand Final." There is no mention in the rules about the time that the voting jury members can be published.
Although the EBU has not published any rules regarding the jury membership or regulations about how they must work, it was widely expected that the names of the jurors would be kept secret until after the voting in order to protect their neutrality, as has been the case in the past. By holding back the disclosure of their identities, there would also be little chance of any vote rigging or vote swapping scenarios which have in the past been cast against the Eurovision Song Contest.
Last year, the Spanish and British media jumped on a story that said Cliff Richard would have won the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest with his song, Congratulations. The reason that Spain secured victory was reported to be because Franco, head of the country's government at the time, bribed the international judges to deliver Spain it's first victory. There was no investigation into the claims by the EBU or requests from either the Spanish or British broadcasters.
There have also been accusations about vote rigging and vote swapping stories for many years. This is one of the reasons that televoting was introduced to the Eurovision Song Contest in 1997. After testing the system using 6 countries, televoting replaced juries for all countries in 1998. Although the move put an end to vote rigging questions, it did give rise to increased problems with neighbourly voting and the new problem of diaspora voting. This led to the changes for 2009 that brought back national juries alongside the national televote.
esctoday.com has asked the EBU to specify whether broadcasters are allowed to name their jurors or that jurors should not be made public until after the Eurovision Song Contest votes have been declared in Moscow. We have also asked if Germany will be required to form a new jury, should the rules state that the identity of jurors cannot be made public before the Eurovision Song Contest final. We will publish any statement made by the EBU as soon as we receive it.