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.”
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Photo at top: Sander Hesterman (EBU)
El respeto no se pide, no se exige.EL RESPETO SE GANA
Can I PLEASE ask everyone to stay at the topic… other talks about lobbying and Scandinavia and rates can be discussed at some other topic.. give Vlad some respect.. this is only about the news from Vlad saying he was fired… thanks!
! MAFIAVISION !
“Meanwhile, Sietse Bakker “likes” some photo on the EBU’s new Media Director.”
He put a “like” on a business colleague’s Facebook page? Why that rotten so-and-so! Will this scandal never stop? Next thing you know he’ll be bringing donuts to the office!
The Oikotimes claims seem to have more to do with ego and personal rivalries than anything else. While the editor does bring a recap of most of the allegations and suspicions that have been made over the past 2-3 years, one can’t help feel that he’s the one who’s got the most to lose over his interpretation of what professional conduct and journalistic ethics entail. Making empty threats and casting aspersions is not the way to go, unless your personal frustrations get the better of you and make your case weak. For years, sites like Oikotimes were pampering and lauding… Read more »
@Sarah – That’s a valid point about 2011 which is the only year after 2007 which saw a minimal 22 point gap over Italy and a 26 point gap over Sweden, but as far as I can remember, Azerbaijan opened a 40+ gap after the 35th voting with 8 remaining juries. That gap was narrowed to 22 points at the end. The victory was sealed after the 40th voting country gave its votes. I’m don’t recall that an algorithm was applied to arrange the order in which the countries voted back then, so you could say it was in fact… Read more »
@PP: You know what is far more concerning than you hatred against Loreen and you explainable love for the long pink Turkish curtains … is the fact that you need to improve your English a bit more if you wanna make any valid point come across and not just a personal preference which mirror nothing but Swedish hatred … as it has now become common in Eurovision. Let’s hate those who get it right musically wise.
*Facebook profile, that is.
Meanwhile, Sietse Bakker “likes” some photo on the EBU’s new Media Director.
Looks like someone have a pole-position. 🙂
They had good results so making them leave like this is quite unprofessional from Ola Sand and the rest of the management.
Organizing the tender should have started from stating what are the problems they want to be fixed, how a tender can help that and what filters have been put in place to select the best services. Also they should have announced their intentions a lot of time ahead to make everything predictable.
Robyn I thought it is the biggest contributor to the ebu not the actual contest.
Charles For me Sertab Erener have better vocal than Loreen, Emelie de Forest, Mans Zelmerow . Mans voice sound so pefect live, like Anna Vissi in 2006. Charles do you hear and wath how Sertab sing song Leave in Berlin when they prepare show for new 10 members of EU in 2004. And we all know how sing Loreen in final for juries , that perforamnce dont deserve 296 points . Serbia on second place have only 173, Rona with fantastic voice is on 3 rd place wiht only 157 points from juries, and Pastora from Spain on 5 place… Read more »
Oikotimes is most likely right and I have an idea who it may be but I can definitely rule out the uk bbc itv and channel 4 all contribute to the ebu and BBC is massive I think the biggest channel out of all the ebu broadcasters. Like I said before its not about your country unless the channel is like the BBC where it uses tv licence. It’s more about the channel and how much the advertise and get money like itv
Erin- the comments about the neck and neck thing. I think 2011 was neck and neck( well would of been) however what happened it that because of the way they do the voting to make it exciting as possible using jury votes this meant italy would be the one starting off bad but climbing up. Unfortunately the televotes where complete opposite and no one really noticed Italy climbing up bit by bit until the end when they pinched second. It would of been more exciting if it was a random draw.
@YoungsterJoey My point is that the suspense on the 2015 vote was artificial because a mathematical algorithm made it look as though Russia was opening a gap half way through. That wasn’t a coincidence – it was planned in advance. Why do you assume the order of the voting countries is decided on the night before the final after the juries’ votes are in? that’s in order to maximize the artificial sense of a so-called tight race…it’s a scenario that repeats itself year after year in different variations so that the element of excitement is manipulated to a maximal effect.… Read more »
I don’t suffer fools gladly. Too old for that. Why would *any* organization allow a member (especially Big 5) to not contribute? If you believe that, you’ll believe anything.
@Eugene I don’t argue that both dismissals happened within about a month over similar line of questioning, but the circumstances behind their demise is completely different as previously stated by others. My point is the following: If you decide to become a whistle blower at any given workplace, you better make sure you can reach out to law enforcement, government agencies or the mainstream media if you believe there is a threat to the public interest or a serious violation of the the organization’s own laws and regulations is being committed. I don’t believe this is the case here. Neither… Read more »
“There is no smoke without fire!!”
When you start speaking in pointless platitudes, that’s the best place to start questioning.
“The editor-in-chief of oikotimes is implying that one BIG 5 country is actually not contributing to the EBU…….. *interesting*”
Then the editor-in-chief of oikotimes is a nincompoop.
“It’s only opinions based on what we know” I wouldn’t mind if that were true, but I don’t think it is. You don’t know ANYTHING, other than what you see on the internet – just like me. All I see is two ex-employees doing a seminar on being unprofessional, and a lot of “opinions” that seem to be based on spontaneous fan-generated headcanon. Have you considered, for instance, how it is that we have this nice VIDEO of Vladislav Yakovlev? He’s never posted a YouTube video before, but this apparently deserved one. How convenient for the websites like this one!… Read more »
@MTD: The problem is “Everyway that I can” is just a crappy Shakira-esque leftover sung terribly live (long pink curtains don’t sing; just are just distraction to an awful vocal performance don’t deny that) by someone with allegedly a tremendous professional career in Turkey. So with your perspective, which is right, I’d say thank God iTunes were still not around. There was already so much crap in music in those days I believe we had enough bs to handle. And Oriental-esque made pop music is pure rubbish. You wanna sound ethical, then bring in the real thing regardless if it’s… Read more »
The editor-in-chief of oikotimes is implying that one BIG 5 country is actually not contributing to the EBU…….. *interesting*
“Are you related to Jon Ola Sand or Sietse Bakker, mawnck?” Not even slightly. And I’m on the wrong continent too. Are you related to all these other ninnies who are regurgitating the “EBU is evil, the fired people are perfect” garbage? Seems to me nobody’s coming out of this looking very good. Not the EBU, not Vlad and Kath, and certainly not the fans. “why have two people within the same organisation been sacked for asking the same wrong questions?” One was sacked for making an ass of herself on Facebook, and appropriately so. PR people who publicly turn… Read more »
@Charles – I respect your opinion, but in which way charts were as functional as in these modern digital times as in 10 years ago? Don’t sound one-sided. You know it well that if we had “Everyway that I can” winning this year, it would have been charted as in many countries as it was in Mans case.
Plus, if there weren’t the Warner boys from his production company to push his song, there wouldn’t be Mans as you know it.
@Erin: good points made but:
“When was the last time during the last decade when there was an actual neck to neck voting going on?”
I’d say THIS year’s ESC saw neck-to-neck voting between Italy, Russia Sweden. It went back and forth until at least the 30th country (probably when the UK made its vote). Now, if you’re referring to neck-to-neck meaning points until the very final spokesperson — then — yes but it also depends on the songs in the contest.
Sorry that it’s too long, but here we go: I find it odd that this latest dismissal of a prominent EBU figure comes up from the ranks of JESC and not the ESC itself. The suggestion both Vlad and Kath made was that there is some sort of foul play and irregularities going on in their immediate backyard over a specific tender to the point where they found themselves deliberately demoted and forced out of the position held in the organization. Are these 2 prominent layoffs the beginning of a chain reaction or just a case of two people being… Read more »
It is VERY suspicious the fact that people who made jesc a good show again and everyone who dares to speak are fired. Sand and his friends (including bjorkman) are gradually destroying eurovisions quality and reputation. Its a pity that ebu is turning into fifa…
@MTD: I don’t see any hits from 2003-2009 being played on the radio or on TV … so you personal preference is supposed to say what really? Quality songs don’t necessarily become hits … but neither do novelty acts nor uptempo crap fueled by televoting desperation. Not everyone is worthy of the success of Euphoria, sorry to tell you that, but post 2011 songs started showing up in the charts all over Europe. It means that quality has hit credibility to an extent all the crap from 2003-2009 (with respectful exceptions: Chiara and Yohanna) could never have. The fact that… Read more »
@PP: Which is nothing compared to the Soviet, Balkan and Turkish-Greek overrated and over-loved lobbies from the previous decade… at least Sweden understands music better than what all those could ever do … they are really good and finally learned their lesson from their crappy schlager fails. Fans just want to take control of the whole thing and make the whole audience shy away (any future drag queen or transsexual to win this?) from it while Turkey is just too coward to present a song musically worth being praised, Greece is a spoiled brat baby regardless what they send, and… Read more »
Big mistake big big deal mistake what a shame. I think the whole process needs to be changed eg he voting. Its become far from a song contest I only think the juries are useful for the semis they should be scrapped for the finals. With the new system there is more block voting and what I think is that a balkan country will do really well next year year because of this but the only way that will happen is if only one of them send a balkan type song. I would prefer them all to send balkan songs… Read more »
Are you related to Jon Ola Sand or Sietse Bakker, mawnck?
@Bouke: I think so too 🙁 Might go even lower
Next year we will see the countries drop from 17 to 11 or 12 again, I think 🙁
I do believe in a Scandinavian lobbying. I love Nordics but not in the Eurovision anymore. They are also able to produce good shows in the other Western Europe (Austria and Germany are good examples). I would love if Sweden wins once in a decade, as they introduced cool stuff like new postcards etc., but really not liking being in Scandinavia every year. I also don’t find the Melodifestivalen very attractive. It’s so cheap at all. I hated acts like Samir & Victor, boybands, Dolly Style, Molly Sanden, Oscar Zia or Eric Saade. Except Loreen and Robin any of Melodifestivalen… Read more »
Vladislav needs to give us some TEA and serve what really happens at the EBU. lol….
In all seriousness, I think we can give some credit to him for reviving JESC and making the moves to recruit countries after its stagnant years earlier this decade. The true test now will be how the 2016 will be. The ONLY possible saving point is if Malta agrees to host — since it already hosted in 2014 and did have influence in producing this year — therefore it has the experience in hosting the contest….but of course not in recruiting countries.
How the heck do such unprofessional people get hired by the EBU in the first place? (Note: I’m not saying he’s wrong, just saying that this video was yet another bonehead move by the anti-tender forces. And it sure isn’t going to help him get another gig.)
As for this …
“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.”
… looks like the sham of pretending to be journalists is exposed. Thanks for being better, Wiwibloggs.
Scandinavian loby in reference group for Eurovision is so strong in last few years after Jon Ola Sand gets the jobs after Svante. After Svante we had winner from Sweden 2012, Denmark 2013, Sweden 2015 , Sweden is so overrated by juries from 2012 to 2015….
Although I think the only time people have cheated in ESC was Azerbaijan 2013 it is suspicious how the jury sometimes votes. I mean Sweden was a bookies favorite with 2-1 odds but they came 3rd in the televising with almost 100 less points than Italy. Also funny how when Italy returned in 2011 with a song very few people liked it top the juries score (although 2011 was a weird year) then in JESC Italy debuts and wins with a song very few people thought would even place in the top 10 (and guess what? They topped the jury… Read more »
@mad-professor – about the quality of songs; how many songs are “here to stay” from all these sung in Vienna?
Compare that to the hits and popular lists of songs 2003-2009.
@Robyn – but it is in their culture to lobby hard. 😉
Alas, this year Italy was the televoting winner, but because of bookies predictions and all the buzz surrounding it, Sweden won.
But, you can’t see the bigger picture.
And about the corruption of the voting system as a whole, don’t get me started on that. It’s a topic for another post.
I guess once Sietse’s company will win the tender, things will explode…
is it ‘end of contract’ or ‘fired’ ??
Lesser quality? Despite the fact that the songs have never been better? Even countries like Estonia have been sending good songs in the last few years!
@khm – maybe even below zero.
Jon Ola & his group of Scandinavian friends made ESC into what is today – highly corrupt, with lesser quality and streak of winnings from fairly corrupt countries or countries that lobbied so far and so in depth that at the end, you should had to declare them as winners even before the show (looking at you Denmark & Sweden, twice).
So, EBU went upside down and it will go deeper. It’s not just about these folks that got fired – it is something much bigger.
The ones who should be fired are Sietse Bakker and Jon Ola Sand themselves! Vlad, Kath and Luke Fisher did an amazing job and re-built JESC image, but now everything is back to zero.