Sunday 21 January 2018

Eurovision organisers announce rule changes amid allegations of jury bribery

It has been alleged that officials from Azerbaijan attempted to bribe jurors in several countries
It has been alleged that officials from Azerbaijan attempted to bribe jurors in several countries
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

EUROVISION organisers have announced a series of sweeping rule changes to the jury system amid allegations of bribery.

The organisers of the competition, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), launched an investigation after reports emerged in Swedish media earlier this month that the officials from Azerbaijan attempted to bribe jurors in several countries.

The report quoted several unnamed jurors from smaller nations, including Lithuania and Malta, claiming they had been approached to sway the vote in Azerbaijan’s favour.

Since the juries were returned to the Eurovision fold in 2009, the names of the five member panel in each country was not revealed until after the final result.

Their individual scores for each of the songs have never been revealed.

Under the new rules, the names of the five jurors will be announced in advance of the final, with their full marks released immediately after.

The new rules also forbid the same person serving on a jury for two contests in a row.

Organisers claim that although they have never found any proof of jury tampering, the move is to increase transparency in how the final result is decided.  

The Swedish newspaper report, published in Skånska Dagbladet, alleges that jurors in several countries were offered ‘enough money to live off for a year’ in return for voting for Azerbaijan.

Malta has awarded Azerbaijan the maximum twelve points the last three years in a row, despite the two countries’ having no diaspora or geographical connection.

Although Lithuania has close neighbours participating in the contest – such as Latvia, Estonia and Russia – it has awarded Azerbaijan twelve points for the last two years running.

Last year, a Lithuanian newspaper reported that representatives from Azerbaijan were offering youngsters phones and phone credit to sway the televote in the country’s favour.

Azerbaijan won the competition in 2011 and spent almost €140m on building a brand new arena for the show.

The country came third in 2009, fifth in 2010 and second this year. They have never finished outside the top ten since debuting in 2008.

Representatives from the state broadcaster have denied all allegations of jury bribery.

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