Sunday, May 24, 2015
ESC 2015: the juries did what they should do
I was too tired to dig into it myself but the people who did soon discovered that Italy won the televote by a landslide - had there been no juries, we would be headed for Rome next year.
In the televote Italy won, Russia came in second and Sweden third, but the jury vote reversed the top three and swung things around.
There is nothing wrong with this as such. That's in fact what the juries are there to do. To counterbalance certain things (diaspora votes, for instance) and strengthen songs that are good (and hit friendly) but not instant enough to hit home on one listening.
It is just remarkable how much the juries kept Italy down. (The same goes for Estonia, another entry one would expect be jury candy rather than a general audience favourite.) The Italian offering was relatively original, it was well sung, it had proved to have hit potential. Maybe professional jury experts don't want to be associated with anything as shameless and common as popera.
But I still have two main objections to the current jury system.
Each juror ranks all the songs in the running instead of just rewarding its favourite songs. You don't only pick your favourites - you can effectively give minus points by placing a country last, especially in the final. We saw last year how tempting it can be for some to disregard the entries in question and put countries in low places due to political preferences. What little I've seen so far this year points in the same direction.
The jurors are all hand-picked by people inside the ESC bubble and are probably not selected at random. Many of them are selected for having a history with the ESC rather than being contemporary or relevant. In some cases there seem to be very close ties between the selected jurors and the broadcasters they represent.
These jurors have an awful lot of influence on the voting, given there are just five per country. I'm not sure how I would revise this system - if at all - but if I was an EBU executive I would at least examine it thoroughly and evaluate how well it is working.
There seems to be flaws here in there, at least. Last year, the Georgian jury was disqualified - this year the same happened in Montenegro and FYR Macedonia. Following the rules without trying to bend them seems to be more difficult than you'd think.