Eurovision rules changes: EBU gives in to demands on transparency

After this year’s edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, there was a wave of demands all across Europe to make the voting procedure more transparent. Now EBU has given in and changed the rules.

As I have written before, an organization that advocates democracy, should also strive to attend these principles themselves. Now, the reference group has implemented the following rule changes:

- The name of the jury members in each country are to be revealed before the contest.

- The jury members must from now on be working as: Radio DJs, Artists, Composers, Author of lyrics or Music Producers. There is also a requirement for balance in terms of gender, age and background.

- The jury members shall not have been in the jury in one of the two previous editions of the contest.

- The full voting results for both the semi finals and the final – not only split jury / televote, but also down to each jury member, shall be published directly after the final has finished.

Transparency will unveil voting problems

This last rule change is the one that there has been the highest call for. After some of the split results were revealed in May, fans and journalists have been questioning the results, discussing why EBU is holding back the full results. But even though EBU is giving in to the demands now, some of the main issues from last year’s disconcern, still remains unsolved.

The voting process of each country was changed before this year’s edition. From this year on, the jurors were going to rank not only their top-10, but all the songs in the contest. When combining this with the televote, the total rank would determine the score given by the country.

The background of making this change, was the theory of the all-over 11th placed country: If a song ended 11th in both juries and televotes all over Europe, they would end last with 0 points. This was a way to avoid that. But the change had an unfortunate side-effect: The jury voting and the televote could neutralize one another, something that undermines the fairness of the result:

Even though Romania had an overwhelming victory in the Italian televote, they only received 1 point, as the jury vote obviously placed Romania among the last countries, effectively eliminating the televote victory. The same happened in Azerbaijan, where Russia received second position with the televoters, but still did not get any points because the jury placed Russia low.

These problems have not been dealt with in the latest rule changes. But as I pointed out in May, going back to the voting system from the four previous years, where both the juries and the televote ranked only their top-10, could help secure a more fair result, making them unable to completely neutralize each other.

The dissatisfaction of the voting system will not be less next year: EBU have decided to let the result be more transparent, but a greater transparency will also make it easier to reveal that the current voting system is not fair. Which will be something the reference group will have to deal with at the next crossroad.