Norwegian broadcaster NRK has come under fire for the use of a back-up jury at Saturday night’s Melodi Grand Prix 2020 grand final. The broadcaster had used the 30-person jury when the online voting system had crashed after the first round.
The broadcaster was using a new online-only voting system, introduced for the first time this year. However, things didn’t go as planned. After the first round, the online voting crashed and a back-up jury had to determine the four qualifiers to the next round.
Now NRK has been criticised by both Norwegian media and managers of the competing acts. The managers say they were not informed of the back-up jury ‘plan B’.
Stig Karlsen replies to Melodi Grand Prix 2020 criticism
Melodi Grand Prix chief Stig Karlsen met with strong criticism after the show, especially when he revealed that the back-up jury consisted of just 30 people. After journalists questioned the size of the jury, Karlsen said:
“There are 30 people who are of course composed in a representative way from all over the country at different ages. (…) This was a back-up for when things were not going well. We are left with a winner who has been a long-time favourite.”
Songstress Ulrikke Brandstorp eventually won Melodi Grand Prix 2020 with “Attention”. She was the bookies’ favourite and also managed to get on top of our Wiwi Jury rankings. In the final duel, she won over Trondheim native Kristin Husøy.
Emojis made Melodi Grand Prix 2020 online voting crash
Though one of the contest’s big favourites was chosen, Norwegians do not seem completely happy with how the crash was mitigated.
During the first semi-final of Melodi Grand Prix 2020, NRK faced technical problems with the voting too. However, these problems were quickly solved and did therefore not affect the eventual outcome.
But it doesn’t seem that the first voting round was to blame for the online voting to crash. Broadcasting manager Vibeke Fürst Haugen revealed that it seems that emojis made the online voting system crack.
Vibeke Fürst Haugen explained, “We are very pleased with the show, and so we are very sorry for the technical problems. Before we can say anything more we have to evaluate and look at what went wrong, but it seems that it was 38 million emojis that made it crack.”
After each performance, the Norwegian public’s emojis were displayed, but this ceased to happen after the seventh performance of the night. During the last three performances, emojis were not displayed at all.
However, the broadcaster could quickly reset the voting system to make it again available for the general public in subsequent rounds.
Acts and managers claim they were unaware of the existence of a ‘plan B’
Several managers of acts who performed during the Melodi Grand Prix 2020 final are unhappy with the decisions made by NRK.
David Eriksen — who worked with Tone Damli — commented to VGTV that using the back-up jury was “disrespectful towards all people who worked on the ten songs”. He added that nobody heard before about a back-up jury as a ‘plan B’0.
The Solli-Tangen brothers’ manager Finn Håkon Rødland compared the situation with Melodi Grand Prix in 1989. Back then, a jury determined that audience favourite Jahn Teigen was not among the four to go to Gullfinalen. This led to a huge outrage among the public. Didrik Solli-Tangen followed up with an ironic comment on Facebook, which translates to “Poor Jahn Teigen”.
UPDATE (12:30CET): NRK reveals back-up jury did not watch the show live
During a press conference on Sunday, Norway’s public broadcaster NRK revealed more details of the back-up jury. Stig Karlsen revealed that the back-up jury did not base their voting on the performances in the final, but rather assessed the studio versions released ahead of the live shows.
“The jury of 30 is a jury of people with a good spread in age and geography. The artists were also informed that this assessment was done on the basis of the studio recordings. (…) They do not work with TV, they do not work in NRK and have nothing to do with the music industry. It is a neutral jury with TV viewers, who do not relate to TV or the music industry.” Karlsen revealed during the press conference.
Furthermore, Karlsen added that a new voting would not happen.
What do you think? Was NRK fair to use the back-up jury? Should Melodi Grand Prix 2021 use the same voting system? Tell us your thoughts below!