Eurovision Reference Group Set to Issue Sanctions?

Eurovision 2018 – The Chairman of the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group, Frank-Dieter Freiling, has revealed in an interview to Eurovision.de that the Reference Group will consider what sanctions may be applied to Ukraine and Russia in response to  Julia Samoylova’s selection and travel ban. 

Frieling does not hold, back on the Ukraine – Russia issue saying it was a “propaganda campaign on both sides” and that Ukraine got themselves caught by a Russian media trap. He also reveals sanctions were threatened immediately and that the EBU contract with Ukraine said all artists selected must be allowed entry, and therefore they must be sanctioned. Russia will be sanctioned for not attending Heads of Delegation meetings. Sanctions can range from a fine, or the withdrawal of sponsor’s funding, to a suspension of up to three years.

Frieling was not impressed with the three presenters in Kyiv saying they left nothing to be remembered.

Frieling also confirmed that the EBU requires a bidding process, which is why Lisbon cannot be named as the host city immediately.

Also to be discussed at the Reference Group’s meeting on 12th June are topics such as whether the Ukraine – Russia issue was similar to previous rule breaking by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Spain; what lessons can be learnt regarding the problems in organising Kyiv; how could small countries such as Moldova or San Marino host the contest if they won; and if there are to be any EBU changes in advance of Portugal hosting in 2018 to ensure organisation is on track and there is no repeat of Kyiv’s organisational issues.

The Reference Group is established by the Television Committee and its tasks are :

  • approving the development and future format of the ESC;
  • securing the financing of the ESC;
  • modernising the brand and raising awareness of the ESC;
  • overseeing the yearly preparation by the Host Broadcaster.

The Reference Group meets four to five times each year on behalf of all Participating Broadcasters, and is required to take decisions in the general interest of the ESC.

The Reference Group is composed of the following members :

  • The Chairman – Frank-Dieter FREILING (ZDF);
  • Three elected members from among the Heads of Delegations – Emilie SICKINGHE (AVROTROS), Nicola CALIGIORE (RAI), Aleksander RADIC (RTVSLO);
  • Two Executive Producers from previous host countries, as well as the Executive Producer of the current Host Broadcaster – Martin OSTERDAHL (SVT);
  • The EBU Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor – Jon Ola SAND (EBU).

Source: Eurovision.de

44 comments on “Eurovision Reference Group Set to Issue Sanctions?

  1. Off topic: If Macedonia stays in Lisbon 2018, I can totally see Tamara Todevska as internal selection..

  2. Less songs in the Final – 20 would be perfect – to make it more competitive – with eventually 3 semi-finals;
    No Big5;
    Orchestra, orchestra! Live music!
    As for the Ukraine-Russia issue, if there are established rules, they must be applied.

    • I think that we should stick to 26 finalists because less finalists would mean that more countries are left behind in the semi-finals. That might lead to declining interest in some countries that constantly fail to qualify.
      I am passionately against the BIG5 rule but it will stay in place. Just imagine the viewing figures of the grand final if SMN, ISL, MLT, CYP and MNE are in the final but the BIG5 are not. The EBU won’t take the risk of that ever happening. Quite the contrary, I wouldn’t be surprised if more countries got BIG status over the next years. Russia, Australia, Turkey (if they ever return) and perhaps the Netherlands and Poland come to mind. It’s the dirty logic of capitalism …
      I would love to see the orchestra back, but only as a choice. The orchestra would compliment some songs (like PRT or ITA this year) but it would look and sound out of place with songs like NOR or SWE 2017 f. e. Plus, who is supposed the pay for an orchestra that has to rehearse 40+ songs? More rehearsals would be needed too.

      • togravus, I know my wishes are all very romantic… and totally outdated :-)

      • Perhaps getting rid of the Big5 altogether and having two semis with 11 or 12 countries from each plus host advancing to the final is an idea worth considering. More competitiveness will definitely help the overall level to rise and boost viewership of the semis (which are now a non-event among the Big5). I also think the show drags for too long with 26 entries in the final.

        I can understand the fear that big western countries will be uninterested in the final if they are left out, but we have also seen how viewership in them is also getting depressed because their broadcasters have a secure place in the final and are not trying at all (see how reduced audiences were this year in Germany, the UK and Spain). Perhaps some drama about qualifying/not qualifying will actually help boost overall figures?

        If on the other hand they want to go the other way and the big5 concept is expanded, this can only be done towards the East. Apart from the obvious cases of Russia and Turkey, Poland and Ukraine also boast a population as big as Spain’s. And I certainly wouldn’t advice the EBU to keep pushing Australia and creating more backlash from every corner of Europe who see them as interlopers. But as I said, I don’t think shielding more countries from competition in the initial stage is a way to make the contest more popular in the long run.

        • Declining viewing figures in Germany were due to the fact that there b as zero buzz around Levina. She was the best choice the Germans were given, but at the end of the day she only was the best choice from a very lame line-up. I expect viewing figures to rise again next year. :)

          • That’s what I am saying. Lack of effort because a place in the final is guaranteed.

            • It’s not lack of effort. In fact, the disturbing news is that NDR seems to actually try. The problem is that they try to find a new Lena while everyone knows that you can’t find sb like Lena. She needs to simply come along …

      • I agree about live accompaniment, but it would not have to be a traditional orchestra. The Eurovision Greatest Hits show in London in 2015 had a very versatile live band led by Dave Arch, best known in the UK as the musical director and band leader of Strictly Come Dancing. He proved that a modern, technologically contemporary and sophisticated live band could work perfectly with Eurovision across a wide spectrum of musical styles. It makes for a more visually engaging show too.

        • I agree and totally support the idea to allow live music, at least allow people to play their instruments live onstage. That would be a first step. Alas, these days many acts hide the backing singers too. As a result many acts looked empty and boring (MAK, MNE, IRE, ISL to name just a few).

  3. Nobody will be banned because the EBU is so proud of the viewing figures.

  4. Well it’s really positive that they are not completely braindead in this Ukraine vs Russia feud!

    ”Frieling was not impressed with the three presenters in Kyiv saying they left nothing to be remembered.”
    Isn’t this a little harsh and more of a personal opinion? I know they weren’t necessarily good in any means, but so has been the case of many presenters in the past.
    The whole bidding phase is also a bit too commercial for my taste and I kinda wished they could just name a city and venue fast as to focus more on the actual show. I understand that they want funding, but a good show doesn’t necessarily need tens of millions of euros to make it work and Swedens hosting primarily proved that.

    • I wonder if we will ever see another contest as well organized, produced and staged as Stockholm 2016.

      • You’ll be surprised :)

        • Let’s hope that I will. I’d love to see Sílvia Alberto hosting but perhaps she is a bit too chatty and the show would go on for 6 hours. Personally I wouldn’t mind though because I think that ESC flies by every year. That’s the reason too why I don’t see any need to reduce the number of finalists.

          • Sílvia Alberto, no, please :-)
            What I meant, togravus, is that I’m sure Lisbon18 will be fantastic.
            Of course not the Swedish kind of organization, wich is so professional and so perfect that it becomes (IMO) artificial and a bit robotic. There are many ways of putting a «well organized, produced and staged» ESC, other than the Swedish way :)

      • as annoyed as I am to admit it, yes it was great in so many levels (they really learned from the few Malmö’s mistakes)

    • That was rude and unprofessional coming from an EBU official, but then these guys only behave like this with the not so important countries.

  5. More pointless posturing by the EBU with this bidding talk; they’ve already mentioned MEO Arena as their favourite venue, but they want to convey this image of neutrality or whatever you wsih to call it. Somebody wrote on ESC Portugal that RTP have already pre-booked MEO Arena for April and May of next year.

  6. Salvador performed live last night in Guimarães; he was the main star of the North Music Festival’s first evening:

  7. Athens Pride next Saturday.

  8. Togravus alluded to Sílvia Alberto. My choice would be Daniela Ruah, a Portuguese actress, living and working in the USA. She is intelligent, classy and sophisticated. And she followed this year’s ESC. Some fans in ESC Portugal have already mentioned her name.

  9. The Reference Group has to take measures against musical nationalism creeping up imo and set guidelines to national final criteria imo before it bothers with anything else.

    It has to issue a stern warning against Slovenia in particular which stated in the boldest way it will discriminate against songs in english thus limiting artistic freedom – and make sure broadcasters like the estonian and german ones get the message as well.

    A resolution condemning the winner’s statements would also be good – since they express an opinion on the presenters they can issue a bold statement stating the contest respects all artists and kinds of music.

    These issues are much more important in the long term than the Ukraine-Russia issue for the viability and relevance – and survival – of the contest.

    • Broadcasters are free to choose entries internally, by selection and by any other way they want and it’s not EBU’s business – they have no right of intervention. Broadcasters also are free to chose the format of their selection. And there is nothing nationalistic in the fact that broadcasters want native language entries. There are State languages in the countries and after all in eurovision that are countries that compete .

      • I 100% agree. Plus, whatever guitar campaigns against makes NO sense at all. I mean the Icelandic National Final actually imposes the English language but then it’s fine by him…

      • And as you obviously can assume we will disagree vastly on that. This is pure discrimination and musical nationalism and any broadcaster that engages to it will be completely ignored from any of my rankings. The broadcaster has ZERO right artistically speaking to turn away an entry SOLELY on the fact that it is in english.

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