The European Broadcasting Union purports to stand for independence, accountability and transparency in public service broadcasting. But today a former employee suggests otherwise in a video that alleges he was fired for asking difficult questions about governance at the EBU.
Vladislav Yakovlev, the Executive Supervisor of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest from 2013 until today, posted the following video on his Facebook page with the caption: “Fired today by EBU.”
“I was fired because I dared to question the tender procedure,” he says. “I dared to question where and how the EBU members’ funds are being used and many other questions to my direct management about their acts towards the Eurovision events. Under these circumstances I don’t see any possibility for an honest and healthy development of the Eurovision events.”
It is the EBU’s policy not to comment on the termination of contracts with individuals.
The news that his contract was not renewed may not come as a total surprise. The EBU previously announced that it was staging an open tender for the management and oversight of Junior Eurovision (and Eurovision Young Dancers and Eurovision Young Musicians), which implied that the existing team would be relieved of its duties. Only companies can bid for the new contracts. However, many assumed that the Executive Supervisor would retain his role and that the new contracts would cover only the web site and communications staff.
When he took over as Executive Supervisor in 2013, the number of participating countries had fallen to an all-time low of 12. This year that number rose to 17 — just one shy of the all-time high set in 2004.
Alleged corruption at the EBU
Previously the EBU dismissed JESC Head of Press Kath Lockett for raising similar questions on Facebook. Yakovlev raised his questions in private.
Fans have spoken out on their social media channels, but fan media and web sites have generally shied away from reporting on the news. In private they whisper that they fear reprisals from the EBU.
And so mainstream media has led the charge, with Sweden’s Aftonbladet and the UK’s popbitch and Private Eye asking questions about ethics and transparency, and drawing rather ugly analogies between the EBU and FIFA.
Germany’s NDR has been asking questions, too. Among them is where the revenue from the Eurovision YouTube channel (more than 1 billion views) actually goes. In August it sent an extensive list of questions to Eurovision superviser Jon Ola Sand. These covered YouTube revenues, organisational and financial practices, and why the running of Eurovision events is outsourced to non-EBU staff members, among other things.
You’re fired! Fans react to Vladislav’s exit
Fans have already launched a Facebook group to bring Vlad back and have started circulating the hashtag #bringvladback on Twitter. There’s also been an outpouring of support on his personal Facebook account. As one user writes: “You were very brave and it’s unfair.”
At 15:44 on 2 December, the EBU published the following Facebook status in response to Vladislav’s departure:
EBU statement in response to the departure of former Junior Eurovision Song Contest, Eurovision Young Musicians and Eurovision Young Dancers Executive Supervisor Vladislav Yakovlev:
“Upon the arrival of a new EBU Media Director in 2015 it was decided to restructure the way in which the department is organized to consolidate and safeguard the EBU’s key brands in the long term. In recent weeks Vladislav Yakovlev was offered a new role in the Live Events unit which oversees the Eurovision Song Contest, Junior Eurovision Song Contest, Eurovision Young Dancers and Eurovision Young Musicians events. Unfortunately an agreement couldn’t be reached on this new role. Vlad has been valued member of the EBU staff since 2010 and the EBU would like to thank him for his work.”
Photo at top: Sander Hesterman (EBU)