Looking at the title, you’re probably expecting an ordinary review of the latest changes in the contest, but no. I am here to share my thoughts which I have been keeping to myself for a long time.
I decided to write this article, after Romania’s disqualification was announced by the EBU, due to their unpaid debt.
I’d like to start with a topic that everyone is familiar with. Turkey withdrew from the contest after 2012, and based on our foresight, they’re never ever coming back. When they left the contest, lots of question marks remained in our minds.
In the beginning of 2013, TRT held a meeting with the biggest music authorities, in order to develop a new Eurovision strategy. The ideas of Turkish musical talents were listened and evaluated, everyone was expecting a strong comeback from Turkey. However, soon after this meeting, TRT decided that they were not coming back to the contest, and they didn’t make any convincing explanation for this at all. Most of Turkish Eurovision fans were shocked and disappointed after this decision, but now it is plain to see that, what TRT did was completely rational.
TRT is obviously an authoritarian corporation. So is EBU. When two authorities try to be dominant at the same setting, conflict is inevitable. Turkey’s very first disappointment was in 2011, when Yüksek Sadakat couldn’t pass to the finals. It was the first time in Eurovision history that Turkey did not qualify to the finals, and it brought about some speculations about the televoting. As you might know, in 2010 and 2011, the voting used to begin as soon as the first song started. Rumour has it, the telephone lines were forgotten to be opened at the first semi-final of Eurovision in 2011. On that night, none of the first performing 5 songs could qualify to the finals. I think this fact supports the rumours, there were apparently some technical problems with the show on that night. Next year, for some reason (!) EBU immediately decided to go back to the conventional televoting system. This was only one example of the go-as-you-please attitude of the EBU. They changed the rules ‘too often’, using the trial-and-error method, and TRT was really irritated from this approach. Turkey was slowly becoming distant from Eurovision.
Recently, almost every decision of EBU was reflecting their bossy nature, and Romania’s disqualification was the latest example. If we assume that the national broadcaster pays all the expences on their own, there are basically two factors contributing to the huge amount of debt. One is the payment of membership to EBU, and the second is the financement of the Eurovision entry. Here we are mentioning an amount of 16 million Swiss francs (€14.5 million). This is loads of money! A long time is needed for such a big amount of debt to be accumulated. Now, the question is, why the EBU decided to expell Romania all of a sudden, just less than one month before the contest? There’s only one answer: DOMINANCE.
There are numerous other signs showing that EBU is becoming more and more authoritarian recently. These include the newest rules, like collecting jury voting and public voting together, interfering with the performing order of each country, and deciding which country will perform in which semi-final. It seems to me that EBU is trying to control
everything in one hand.
If we turn to the situation of Romania, I think that it was completely a wrong decision to disqualify them from the contest. It is unfair for the Romanian artist, who made lots of efforts till now. It is like punishing the singer for the fault of the country’s national broadcaster. At least they could have let the artist perform at the Eurovision stage. Jon Ola Sand says “It is sad for both the artist and the audience,” but his words are inefficient to compensate the letdown of the Romanian team. I just can’t agree with the EBU here. This decision will also damage the image of the EBU in front of the viewers.
Coming to a conclusion, I would also like to point out the fact that the latest decision the EBU might also have aimed to intimidate the other countries who have unpaid debts. We don’t have any information about how much debt the other countries are in charge of, but I guess, small and economically unstable countries such as Greece, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are under risk for the next Eurovision. They might withdraw from the contest next year, and if so, all the strategies to increase the number of participating countries will go for nothing. EBU should make self-criticism and fix their system as soon as possible.
To sum everything up, there is no black and white in Eurovision, we are just watching the shades of grey…