Last year the Eurovision Song Contest was hit by a voting scandal indicating attempts from Azerbaijan to buy votes in favour of their own entry. EBU conclude that no smoking gun was found towards Ictimai TV, but they will now tighten the rules to make each broadcaster responsable.
Azerbaijan is one of the most succeful countries at the Eurovision Song Contest. The country has only participated six times in total until now, but with endning in top 10 every time, and five of those six times, in top5 the avarage result from this country is pretty amazing. But did it all happen rightfully or have they been cheating? That was one of the questions asked by many last year where one report after the other suggested that it was commonly known that Azerbaijan was buying votes in other countries.
EBU has been looking into the matter and today came the conclusion, which basically says: Fraud attempts detected, no smoking gun found in relation to Ictimai TV, but we will tighten the rules to make it less profitable for any country to try to do so.
The way to tighten the rules is by making the broadcasters responsable for what other groups of interest, such as PR companies, might be doing. EBU’s reference group compare it with football: "Just as football clubs are in principle accountable for the behaviour of their fans, we will hold – on a case-by-case basis – participating broadcasters accountable and make them responsible to prevent voting irregularities in favour of their entry," said Dr Frank Dieter Freiling, chairman of the Reference Group, to Eurovision.tv.
Eurovision.tv also concludes that attempts to cheat was detected, but that it failed, and that it can not be chased back to any broadcaster. Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, Jon Ola Sand says: "We did everything you may expect when something like this happens, ranging from research to interviews, to corresponding and talking with our Azeri Member Ictimai TV, to data analysis. Along the way, our goal has been to end these attempts and to achieve that, we had to understand what happened. We took our time to conduct a thorough investigation".
About the tighting of the rules Jon Ola Sand says: "We concluded that there is no evidence that Ictimai TV had been involved with, or had been aware of the attempts. But the EBU and the Reference Group also want to protect the contest from unfair practice. It was therefore decided to hold each broadcaster more strictly accountable for any wrongdoing in favour of their entry, no matter where it comes from, and to automatically propose exclusion from the contest in case we detect cheating attempts".
This year’s Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark with two semi-finals to be held on the 6th and 8th of May and the grand final on the 10th of May. Azerbaijan, where these voting fraud attempts comes from, will participate in the first semi-final.
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