Sonntag, 29. Juni 2014

Voting arrangements of Eurovision Song Contest on the test - Televoting

Unfortunately the calculation of the results has become a topic of debate. The EBU claims to have optimized their rules and published a set of rules for the 59th edition of Eurovision Song Contest in 2013. 

In 1.1.3 the process of scoring is described as the audience can follow during the show in front of their televisions. The result is calculated from 50% jury and telephone voting. 2013 a change was made: Until 2012 they charged only the top ten of telephone voting and jury. Since 2013 all songs have to be valued. A Romanian blogger 2013 described the effect in detail with reference to the Italian votes. It strikes that the Romanian representative, countertenor Cezar, was chosen by the Italian public with 12 points as No. 1. In combination with the votes of the jury he finally got 0 points. When asked who the jury experts are: "All male, no musician (contradicting EBU rules), president is journalist at right-wing newspaper ". 

Until 2012 the 5 members of the jury could weaken the outcome of the telephone votes, now they can delete public voice. One has to consider that the mass of telefonvoter pays for each of their calls, the few members of the jury, however, are (probably) paid. To put it precisely: The EBU collects the money of public and then can make their votes invalide. As long as the EBU does not clearly points out these conditions to the audience it is deception or even fraud. 

The European data of telefonvoter and jury all run in a single private company, to be precise to Digame Mobile GmbH in Cologne. Digame collects and distributes all votes before the results are presented on TV. They are only observed by German company PWC. To really exclude any doubt a notary from each participating country should be sent to Germany to control Digame. Otherwise there are still gray areas for internal agreements. Who controls that the German company Digame, here "the Pan-European Televoting-Partner" does not manipulate the results at the end? I want to remind that the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Azerbaijan found themselves compelled to intervene in 2013. Their demand that Digame has to publish the results was denied. Why? 

With this calculation the reference group expresses actually their contempt of public opinion. That they do not completely abolish telephone voting has probably to do with the fact that they still want to make business with the big telephone companies. And with referring to (probably) manipulated results of telefonvoting the music industry can decieve us that some songs are popular. 

In any case the changes of calculating the points disadvantages audience and musicians. The new rule, that the jury have rank ALL songs, is obviously only for statistical purposes. It has nothing to do with valuation and estimation of music. 

At least this mixed results do not give musicians useful feedback of their consumers. One solution would be to nominate 2 winner.

Next - The Jury


Mittwoch, 25. Juni 2014

Universal Song Contest

Norwegischen, schwedischen und rumänischen Berichten zufolge drohen einige Label, den nächsten Eurovision Song Contest 2015 zu boykottieren. Ich bin zwar bei diesen fremdsprachigen Berichten auf google-translate angewiesen, versuche aber dennoch das Vorgefallene kurz wieder zu geben: 

Seit 2004 hat Universal Music das alleinige Recht, die Jahrgangskompilation zum ESC herauszubringen. Dadurch verlieren solche Acts, die bei einem anderen Label unter Vertrag sind, ab dieser Veröffentlichung (April/Mai) einen Teil ihrer Einnahmen. Jetzt plant die EBU mit Universal Music einen neuen Exklusivvertrag abzuschließen, auf Grundlage dessen Universal die gesamten Rechte an den Liedern zugesprochen wird. Dadurch verlieren die anderen Label sogar ihre Einnahmen durch Streaming und Donwloads VOR und NACH Veröffentlichung der Compilation. 

In Norwegen, Schweden und Finnland sind die Vorentscheidungen ein wichtiger Bestandteil des inländischen Musikmarktes. Sony, Warner und DaWorks (das Label des diesjährigen Vertreters für Rumänien) weisen darauf hin, dass es unter diesen Umständen für sie keinen Sinn macht, sich überhaupt noch an den Vorentscheidungen zu beteiligen. Ich gehe mal davon aus, dass diese Verdrängung Sinn und Zweck des Vertrages sind. 

Ich habe keine Textstelle mit einer nachvollziehbaren Begründung seitens der EBU gefunden. Jon Ola Sand (Vorsitzender der Reference-Group der EBU) schwafelt wie immer von „Brand“ und „Marke“ und weist gönnerhaft darauf hin, dass die EBU viel Geld in den ESC investiert und damit schließlich unbekannten Nonames eine Plattform bietet. Mich würde interessieren, wer die Entscheidungsträger sind, wer dessen Befugnisse legitimiert und in wessen Interessen sie handeln. Stattdessen verweist er mit den „Nonames“ (die die Welt nicht braucht) auf die Betroffenheit von Bezugsgruppen, die es noch gar nicht gibt. In diesem Zusammenhang ist es wohl kein Zufall, dass ausgerechnet ein Profi-Musiker aus Rumänien/Norwegen, der schon 2 mal am ESC teilgenommen hat, diesen Mißstand einer Übervorteilung überhaupt publik gemacht hat: Ovi (Ovidiu Cernăuţeanu).

Das einzige, was sich noch auf Europa bezieht ist, dass der ESC durch europäische Gebühren- und Steuerzahler mitfinanziert und von europäischen Ländern für viel Geld ausgerichtet wird. Das alles nur, damit ein einziger amerikanischer Großkonzern dieses europäische Event als PR nutzen kann für überflüssige nationale Vorrunden und noch überflüssigere Nonames und ihrer Mainstreamkost? 

Damit ist der „Brand“ des ESC nur Etikettenschwindel. Es geht weder um Europa, noch um Musik und schon gar nicht um Wettbewerb. In Hinterstuben abgeschlossene Exklusivverträge mit nur einem amerikanischen Konzern haben nichts mit Demokratie, Transparenz, Fairness und Wettbewerb zu tun.


Mittwoch, 4. Juni 2014

Voting arrangements of Eurovision Song Contest on the test

The voting arrangements of the Eurovision Song Contest have always been the climax of the show. Meanwhile judgement of songs causes increasingly international dissonances. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Azerbaijan found themselves compelled to intervene in 2013, and Turkey has completely withdrawn already in 2012. Allegations of distortion of competition and manipulations of all kinds are going arround. More and more ESC evokes a sentiment of war in Europe. And as this issue is still left to yellow press nothing will improve. 

In 2013 EBU (Eurovision Broadcasting Union) advertised that they optimized its regulations for the 59th edition of the ESC in 2014. With concepts of "strictness" and "transparency" they wanted to eliminate any doubts. One year later 2 countries demonstrated ironcally, that the rules are not suitable for a music competition. Now EBU is challanged to position itself with a clear statement for or against their own rules. Will EBU now take their own strict rules seriously and really block some countries for years?  I cannot believe.

I have looked closely to the rules and would like to comment on it in 3 parts. As a blogger my opportunities of research are limited, so some questions will remain. 

Point 1.1.1. "A maximum of 46 countries shall be allowed to participate." Have all these 46 members a say and do they get same information, do they have same capacities and resources? Or have they to buy a pig in a poke? You do not get information about how and by whom these rules came about. Several times it is referred to the reference group. Should this group have the power to make decisions, its constitution seems not to be balanced and not representative for all participating countries: 

Dr. Frank -Dieter Freiling, Germany, Chairman
Jon Ola Sand, Norway, Executive Supervisor
Pernille Gaardbo, Denmark, executive producer, produces the ESC 2014
(Martin Dahl Austria, Sweden, Executive Producer, has produced the ESC 2013.
As the next contest will take place in Austria, I suppose that instead of Pernille Gaardbo currently a member of Austria will come to the group)
Christer Björkman, Sweden, ?
Thomas Schreiber, Germany , ?
Aleksander Radic, Slovenia, ?
Nicola Caligiore, Italy, ?

In my opinion the reference group lacks representatives of different generations, it lacks independent representatives who stand up for the interests of audience and musicians, it lacks representatives from Southern and Eastern European countries. Above all it lacks regular representatives from Non-Nato-Countries so as Russia, Serbia or Azerbaijan. 

In the introduction it is stated that "The Eurovision Song Contest is an international coproduction by EBU members." This sentence indicates joint financing but again it fails with the transparency . There are, at least in this brochure no information on the financing. During my research in internet I always got different figures. The fact is that ESC is a matter of a lot of money. In addition participating countries must bear the costs for the musical contribution, for promotion, travel and accommodation of their delegation. This raises big problems for some broadcasters. 

In less financially strong countries the artists have to pay part of the cost. In Germany everything is paid by obligatory fee for public radio and tv (Rundfunkgebühren). Everything? Did  German fee payers have to finance most extensive star promo in pop history of the post-war period for the niece of politician Nicolas Meyer Landrut (FDP)? Intend and purpose were never questioned, public was never asked to permit. 

As far as I am informed each country must pay a six-figure fee. A higher participation fee pay the so-called Big-5 countries France, Spain, Great Britain, Italy and Germany. Therefore they have a save starting place in the final. A safe starting place in the final also has the organizing country (last year's winner), because their broadcaster has to dig deep into the pockets to provide the show. The rule, that the winner has to organize the contest in the following year is a killer rule for poor countries. 

Obviously the Big-5 countries undermine the competition with money because they buy good final places (from the license fee). In the rules, the final places of Big-5 are guaranteed without further explanation: "There shall be six guaranteed places, one for the host broadcaster, [ ...] and five EBU members from France, Germany, Spain, Italy and UK. [...] Apart from the six broadcasters with guaranteed places, all participating broadcasters from a maximum of 40 countries shall compete in one of the Semi-Finals for the remaining 20 places in the final." 

In section 1.2 the criteria of songs are described. They must not be longer than 3 minutes. And "[Songs] must not have been commercially released before 1 September [one year before]." Should this rule be broken, has "Executive Supervisor authority to evaluate whether the composition is eligible..." Until now the contribution had to be set to a specific deadline, after this deadline any changes were forbidden. Is this rule canceled? Changes after the deadline were previously punished with high fines.

In general the EBU should optimize its management of information instead of their "rules". Concerning finanzing and constitution the rules raise more questions than they answer. This lack of information is not consistent with terms such as transparency and justice. Furhtermore the reference group isn't well balanced. The concept of competition by reference group favors the interests of a small group. The Big-5-rule by which countries can buy places in the final is cowardly and unfair. Even if one assumes a financial generosity of these countries, this rule is still a self-deception on their own audience. At first glance this evokes an image of success and popularity but strictly speaking audience in these countries are faked with untrue statistics and buyed places which they even have to pay