EDITORIAL – The new voting presentation revealed last week by the European Broadcasting Union marking one big (historic according to them) change to the procedure. It was clear from the first moment that it wasn’t only a new presentation of the voting but it also included a voting procedure change. But let’s take it from the beginning…
WHAT IS THE CHANGES ALL ABOUT?
To be honest and having in mind that I personally strongly oppose the use of juries in the Eurovision Song Contest, the new voting procedure and presentation are definitely in a positive way. The new system will surely empower tele voting and maybe make the juries think twice before they “kill” a song by placing it (obviously on purpose) in the bottom rankings while some of them are considered favourites!
GREATER SHOW? YES!
Yes, it will be a greater show by default, although we have no experience of the new system. The reason is simple: there will be a suspense unlike Eurovision editions like 2009 and 2012 when we knew the winner 20 minutes before the show ends. There are some saying “Oh why again Swedish ideas implemented in Eurovision?”. I would agree if there was another idea from another country that could create the same or bigger sentiment. So, to those claiming this, I answer: get a life drama queens.
WOULD THE NEW SYSTEM AFFECT EUROVISION RESULTS?
Typically no. OK, I agree, seen the implementation of the new system to previous Eurovision scoreboards show that many countries have small ups and downs in the scoreboard and only a few have big laps (i.e. Albania in 2015 Eurovision Final) and yes, Malta would have qualified over Azerbaijan last year but in the very end: THE WINNER IS THE SAME! Don’t get mad or frantic but in the end of the show no matter if we would be happy to see Germany without nil points, we all concentrate on how to book our trip for next year’s edition.
LEGAL PROBLEM WITH THE CURRENT RULES?
I was personally wondering on something specific for which I made a notice to the EBU: under the current rules, which clearly say that “In both Semi-Finals and in the Final, the ranks of the televoting and the National Jury shall be combined…”, if a country A won by the old system and a country B wins under the new system, will there be a legal claim by country A? EBU’s Sietse Bakker was kind enough to answer us pointing that the rules clearly say:
- The Reference Group is the Executive Expert Committee representing all Participating Broadcasters.
- The EBU reserves the right to modify the format of the Shows, subject to the Reference Group seeking the prior approval of the Eurovision Television Committee.
- By entering a song for the Eurovision Song Contest (…) each Participating Broadcaster accepts the present Rules.
“This procedure was followed accordingly for this amendment. As the formal submission of songs still has to begin, each Participating Broadcaster agrees to the Rules including this amendment upon submission. Hence, there is no ground for the kind of legal action you described” says Sietse Bakker continuing by saying that: “a Participating Broadcaster has the possibility to raise any topic or concern at any time with the EBU or the Reference Group. At the same time, the Reference Group, with approval of the Television Committee (as bodies representing all Participating Broadcasters and EBU Active Members respectively) have the right to modify the format (a television format being the overall concept of a television programme, which includes the Rules of the competition).”
ANNULLED VOTING STILL CREATE SHADOWS
We were all stunned when we read that when a jury or public voting annulled, EBU will use an average of voting of pre-selected countries. OK I understand that the procedure will be transparent as the countries will have been selected beforehand but still there is a big question: how ethical is to substitute the voting of a country with a pre-selected votes from other countries? and what is the purpose of doing that when actually the fairest seems to be just to say we have cancelled the voting of that country due to a problem. EBU kindly answered although still not convinced:
“Each country will have a pre-selected group of other countries to replace an invalid televoting or jury result”, explained Sietse Bakker and he continued saying: “Replacing an invalid televoting or jury result with another televoting or jury result assures the 50/50 balance. When disqualifying one country’s televote or jury only, that balance would be disrupted. To keep the 50/50 balance, you could argue to also disqualify a country’s valid televoting results when the jury results were invalid, but that would be unfair to the public (or vice versa, why ‘punish’ the jury if the televoting results are invalid?). To keep 50/50 without having to disqualify valid results, this setup was chose”
“Indeed, in case a country does not deliver a valid televoting or jury result in accordance with the Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest, the invalid result will be replaced by a substitute result, calculated by respectively the televoting or jury result of a pre-selected group of countries. This is to keep a 50/50 split. For example: If Country X cannot deliver a valid televoting result, their televoting result will be the average of the televoting result of a pre-selected and pre-approved group of other countries. These compositions have been approved by the Reference Group. This is a contingency case, only applicable in case a country does not deliver a valid result. As with other contingency cases, such as the minimum required amount of televotes in each country, we do not go into further detail in order to protect the security setup.” said Sietse Bakker.
THE SAN MARINO EFFECT
There are countries, in the Eurovision Song Contest, like San Marino, which deliver only jury voting due to low tele voting abilities. Does that mean that San Marino will also deliver a pre-selected group of countries voting in the second round? and OK someone can say “come on it’s one country”. But what if in the future Andorra, Monaco return or Lichtenstein enters the competition? Too many countries will have an extra set of votes. The answer of the European Broadcasting Union was clear (although definitely not fair in my view):
Sietse Bakker replied “correct” to my question if San Marino will give tele voting results from those pre-selected countries?