The impartiality of the Eurovision Song Contest was dealt a devastating blow today with the announcement that the running order for the contest will now be decided upon by the producers. Not only is this act intolerable to genuine fans, the EBU will, I’m sure, open itself up to accusations of manipulation and corruption.
According to the official statement from Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, the reasoning behind the change is to “make great television, for our viewers, but also for the participants.”
“Allowing the producers to determine the running order will help to make more exciting television shows and allows each contestant to stand out, instead of being surrounded by entries in similar style or tempo.”
What the EBU fails to appreciate are the allegations of further politicisation, where producers will be lobbied for more favourable running order slots. A random draw eliminates this potential occurrence, but should rumours of corruption circulate, a number of countries will rightly drop out.
Let’s be realistic, no matter how much the EBU protests its impartiality, there will always be a rogue official willing to take bribes to act as executioner or kingmaker. One only has to glance across to Zurich, the home of FIFA where accusations of bribery and corruption are rife.
The EBU may rebuff these concerns in suggesting the Contest is above such skulduggery. But when you consider the multimillion pound influx of investment and PR that can come from winning the contest, who can honestly say that Eurovision is immune?
Just how would the EBU use their powers?
- Will the EBU hamper a country’s song simply on the basis that they couldn’t afford to run the show?
- Would they also stick the knife in where a country didn’t meet with Western ideals?
- Could the EBU impede a country due to their apparent diaspora?
- As with national finals and the X Factor, producers will no doubt manipulate the running order to suite their desired outcome.
- Assistance may be given to the likes of The Netherlands to qualify.
EBU bigwigs will surely stick to the PR line that their exploits will add more diversity to the running order, therefore adding more spice and variation to the Eurovision experience. I say bullshit! Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.
One also has to consider the betting angle relating to this decision. Eurovision is big business, and with insider knowledge, bribes could be widespread in both influencing the running order and acquiring valuable information. Eurovision could become mired in spot fixing allegations and BetFair markets will be prime targets. Normal bookmakers should be protected, as limits for novelty events are reasonably low.
I’m all for making things fair and even, but the EBU did this in 2009 with the reintroduction of juries. The juries clipped the wings of powerful voting blocs whilst raising the bar of musical quality. I don’t care if Greece votes for Cyprus or Azerbaijan votes for Turkey. That isn’t manipulated, fixed or rigged. It is the vox populi – the people of those countries picking up the phone and choosing to vote for who they deem to be worthy.
Eurovision viewers can tell the difference between a ballad and a house tune and remember who sang what and when. We don’t need a group of handsomely paid suits to hold our hands and spoon feed Eurovision in bite-sized chunks.
The running order of Eurovision should be kept random. If you support this, then sign the petition here.
You can also complain to the EBU here.
What do you think of today’s announcement?