EDITORIAL – Before I start my thoughts I want to point out two things on this topic: First, I was personally against the jury system since they were imposed as 50% of the final result in 2009. Unfortunately I cannot give you the link to the editorial at that time because as some might know, oikotimes content was hacked and lost in summer 2012. Second, some criticise me every time I mention that Sweden is the 2015 Eurovision winner by the juries though. This statement is not aiming to doubt the official result. I am completely aware that the rules already state that there is a jury vote countering 50% in the voting and that can statistically change the tele voting result. Therefore my reference to the jury winning of Sweden is not aiming to call the result illegitimate, it’s just an observation.
For many reasons I postponed this editorial for weeks and the main reason is that I was seriously taking in consideration the arguments pro the jury voting by the European Broadcasting Union. I concluded, though, that the jury system sharing 50% of the result cannot be used anymore (personal opinion) for a vital reason: it creates suspicions no matter what. Let me explain you why this is a good reason to abolish the jury…
After each Eurovision edition, there is one or more countries, the jury votes of which were suspended. In 2015 Montenegro and FYR Macedonia are about to get penalties (if we believe the respected eurovision.de post). This means that PriceWaterhouseCoopers and EBU “saw” something suspicious that we cannot see ourselves, especially during the live voting, I have no doubt of their integrity and I am sure it’s always a hard decision because it is usually interpreted as an insult to the country.
Let me now go back to the 80s and the 90s. The juries often created gossips (never proven) that there was exchange of votes. We all know that and we all participated in various in-between friendly conversations. In 1997, EBU takes the initiative to implement the tele voting (in test mode for five countries) which alter on implemented fully with some exceptions (Albania sometimes, San Marino, Andorra for example). Then we had Eastern countries mostly qualifying to the final and winning the contest. In 2009 the jury system came back as “equal partner” with the public voting…
The jury system came back to prevent diaspora voting and to “assist” some how the quality songs not to get lost by the potentially pompous pop dance acts with props, huge and expensive shows. A ballad performed solo could easily make someone sleep or take a break from the show to order an extra pizza. I agree! But was the jury system necessary? In 2009 jury and public agreed, as well in 2010, 2012, 2014. In 2011 jury voting favoured Italy (a western country) and in 2013 there were no split results presented but instead we had a ranking of juries and tele voting which Denmark both won.
In 2015 Sweden came third in tele voting and still won due to the juries. If the organisers or the EBU were at the press centre would have seen besides the enthusiasm in the press room, the gossips in the smoking area were totally negative blaming the system over the Italian loss especially since a jury favourite prevail over the public favourite. People keep saying and question how the almost 200 jury members in the 40 countries can have a 50% share with the millions of tele voters in each of these countries. I agree. You cannot compare the opinion of five “experts” with the opinion of the public. Somehow you annul the vote given by the viewer (and of course upon charge).
EBU also considers the jury system as one of the reasons to keep the voting safe. I have spoken with them many times with that and they assure me that they are so protected technologically that even when a manipulation effort occurs Digame can spot it and block it. I trust them 1000%. In some countries though tele voting is low in numbers. There, EBU could use the jury vote in order to prevent potential manipulation. But when it comes to a country with 200,000 phone calls how can you combine it with five jury members. We all heard the case of Australian jury member who admitted friend ties with the composer of a songwriter participating in 2015 Eurovision edition.
Not saying or claiming there is a legal issue here but the problem is that there are conspiracy theories all the time. Yes, the event remains successful in numbers and organisation but slowly these doubts can really harm its reputation and this is totally unfair.
I will refute myself, though, because I think that since 1956 when juries used in Eurovision Song Contest, is impossible to have a voting problem with them for one basic reason: Since 1956 statistically at least ONE jury person would have made a claim about it. But so far silence!
I don’t claim my thoughts are right, I don’t order anyone to abolish the juries or change the system. It’s just a post of sharing my personal views about the juries. I am sure that professionals in the EBU and the independent companies for transparency, logistics, host countries and voting monitoring KNOW what is best for the contest. This was just a concern of mine!