Monday 23 September 2013

Openness and accountability?

After the rumours of alleged vote-rigging which emerged after the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest, the EBU launched an investigation. Today it was reported that changes to the voting procedure would take place in 2014. In a bid to make the contest more transparent, the names of each juror will be revealed as well as specific details of which countries they voted for. It appears that the EBU are taking the allegations concerning fraudulent voting seriously. Does this mean that they've uncovered something in their investigations?

Maybe, maybe not.

This isn't the first time that rumours have circulated that Eurovision has been rigged. It was alleged that the contest was fixed for Spain to win in 1968 and in the 1990s Malta faced accusations of corruption after a member of the delegation was said to have been overheard apparently offering votes in 1993. It's certainly interesting to look back at the Maltese votes in that year and indeed in 1994 and 1995; they appeared to award countries that were at the bottom of the scoreboard. Hoping that those countries might return the favour the following year, perhaps?

I welcome these changes to the voting procedure for 2014 and hope that it leads to a fairer contest in the spirit which it was intended. I do however, think that much of the hype concerning Eurovision voting is pedaled by people with an axe to grind. Take the lovely Bonnie Tyler for example, who claimed after the show that she heard Russians talking about buying votes (does she even understand Russian??) and that corruption means that artists like her have no chance. Such rumours suited Bonnie though, it's much easier to blame others than to admit that you simply weren't good enough.

One thing worth thinking about it the fact that the voting has become dull and monotonous, to the point where the semi final results are more exciting. We've not had a close contest since 2003. With nearly 40 countries voting, I think it's unlikely that we'll see a tense voting procedure in the near future.

As Stalin was rumoured to have said, it's not the voting that counts, it's who counts the votes...

Friday 13 September 2013

From Russia with love?

Where has the summer gone?!

I've been busy finishing my book amongst other things, more on that next week. In the meantime here's an article which I wrote for ESC Insight

The situation in Russia is dire and it's not an attempt to excuse it, more of an opportunity to try and provoke a wider debate. Comments welcome, as always!