Bribery Allegations Force Rule Change at Eurovision Song Contest
The Eurovision Song Contest, Europe's ever-popular annual cross-border TV singing competition, has unveiled changes to its rules following allegations of bribery and vote buying.
This year's contest was marked by controversy after it was alleged that some jury members had been bribed to vote for the contestant from Azerbaijan who finished second. Eurovision organizers are currently investigating the allegations but are pushing through rule changes regardless “to put an end to these speculations and clamp down on attempts to unfairly influence the voting."
Under Eurovision's old voting system, 50 percent of the votes for candidates came from an anonymous panel of professional jurors from each of the competing countries, with the remaining votes coming from viewer call-ins.
The new rules will make all jurors' names public before the competition, and the scores from individual jurors will be published immediately after the Eurovision final. Organizers are also promoting greater jury turnover by allowing jurors to participate only once every three years.
It is unclear whether the changes will be sufficient to appease Eurovision's detractors. Turkey this year snubbed the contest, citing dissatisfaction with the rules, and will launch a rival version of the show, Turkvision, this December. The Turkish show will feature competitors from 20 countries and autonomous regions with large Turkish minorities.
Danish singer Emmelie de Forest won this year's Eurovision Song Contest, beating out more famous contenders -- including Bonnie Tyler, who sung for the U.K. -- giving Denmark the right to host the 2014 final, which will air live from Copenhagen on May 10, 2014.
First broadcast in 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest is one of the longest-running TV programs of all time. Much maligned and mocked, it is consistently one of the most popular live events broadcast in Europe. This year's show drew an average of 7.7 million viewers in the U.K., 8.2 million viewers in Germany and nearly 5 million in the Netherlands.