THE NETHERLANDS – When back in September it was announced that Jon Ola Sand steps down from his position as the executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest almost everyone assumed that Sietse Bakker would be the person to replace him. After all, the strong relationship between the two men had never been kept secret.
Back in 2013, when Sietse Bakker had to step down from his position as the executive supervisor of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, due to his poor performance in this role, it was Jon Ola Sand that rescued him by offering him the position of Event Supervisor.
THE BIG SCANDAL
In 2015 Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet revealed that a high profile executive of Bakker’s company, Wow! Works orchestrated a smear campaign against the Swedish contestant Mäns Zemerlöw. The Eurovision world was shocked by the scandal, which hit the headlines in several media outlets around the world. Wow! Works had, after all, an annual contract of €400.000 with EBU for online and communications services that was obviously violated by the above incident. Bakker had to step down as Event Supervisor and Wow! Works lost its contract with the EBU, but this was just for a month. Sietse Bakker opened a new company Scrn, which managed with no background and just one month of operation to win the tender procedure of the EBU and sign a contract for the online services worth hundreds of thousands.
In August 2019 it was Sietse Bakker’s company, Scrn, that revealed Rotterdam would be the host city of the next Eurovision Song Contest, 24 hrs before the official announcement. A mistake that put EBU and Jon Ola Sand himself into a very difficult position. So, after Bakker having survived all the above, it is reasonable for everyone within the Eurovision world to assume that he would be the next Executive supervisor, considering that Jon Ola Sand has an important position in the selection committee.
What all these people didn’t take in account are the strong reactions from several broadcasters, mostly smaller ones, that have already communicated that they will withdraw from the contest in case Sietse Bakker is appointed as the new executive supervisor.
“The new executive supervisor must find a way to cut costs and Sietse Bakker, is definitely not the person that can do that” says a high profile TV executive that for now wishes to remain un-named, “after all it is his contracts that need to be reconsidered since the broadcasters can save a lot of money in case online services are brought in house.” he continues. “This is a great opportunity for the European Broadcasting Union to find an executive supervisor that will pay attention to all broadcasters, and not just the big ones, that will bring a new era to the contest with fresh ideas. EBU needs to look forward and not backwards,” he concludes.
And this is something everyone has to agree with: fresh ideas are the ones that kept Eurovision as the most-watched TV show in Europe for more than six decades.