The EBU, the organisation that runs the Eurovision Song Contest is evaluating possible changes to the voting procedure for the competition. In recent years, the voting at the annual competition – the most watched non sporting television show in the world – has received an increasing amount of criticism for political voting. esctoday.com can reveal that there is now an active process to review the voting procedure following the 2008 competition and changes could be made for the 2009 competition.
The Eurovision Song Contest has always sparked debate when it comes to voting. The arguments about block voting, political voting, neighbourly voting and recently, diaspora voting have sometimes overshadowed the competition itself. Voting cartels, vote swapping deals and even a national leader bribing juries to steal victory for their country have been claimed but never proved. Since the launch of televoting in the 1990s, many believe the competition has become increasingly politically charged, especially after the introduction of the semi final in 2008.
Following the result of the 2007 semi final, when countries in Western Europe were seen to have missed out on a spot in the final because all qualifiers came from Central and Eastern Europe, changes were brought forward and a two semi-final system was introduced for the 2008 competition. Earlier this year in Belgrade, the new system was used for the first time. It was widely held as a success, with a fair balance of countries from across Europe taking their places in the final, and wide agreement that the best songs qualified from each semi final.
The result of the final, however was claimed to show that with all countries voting in one show, the political/neighbourly/diaspora voting problem was stronger and more poinient than ever. Monaco withdrew from the competition after the 2006 semi final, claiming that it could not qualify for the final because of the Eastern bias. In 2007, Austria followed suit. One broadcaster has already told the EBU that it is considering withdrawal for 2008 if the voting system is not rebalanced.
esctoday.com can report that the EBU is now actively looking at alternative voting methods for 2009. A questionnaire hasbeen sent out to broadcasters and the responces will guide the reference group.Two alternative voting methods were explored by the reference group in 2007, but were rejected. Although no deadlines or confirmed changes have yet been agreed, there is a real chance that for the first time in many years, a change to the voting provedure in the final may take place. The current system has been in use since 1975.
esctoday.com has put a number of questions about the exploration of voting changes to the EBU and later today, we will publish an interview with Sietse Bakker, Manager of Communications & PR for the Eurovision Song Contest.
Stay tuned to esctoday.com for all the latest news regarding the Eurovision Song Contest.