Back in May Romania’s state broadcaster TVR threatened to withdraw from the Eurovision Song Contest. But on Friday it confirmed that it would, in fact, participate in Eurovision 2023 in the United Kingdom.
As TVR explain in their official press statement, the EBU rules require that participating broadcasters announce their intention to participate by September 15. They can withdraw — without incurring a financial penalty — so long as they formally communicate that to the EBU by October 11.
There had been fears that Romania would withdraw from the contest following its strongly worded statement in May.
As you’ll recall, the EBU threw out the jury votes of Romania and five other countries in Semi-Final 2 and the grand final and alleged that juries in the six countries had agreed to swap votes. In response, TVR accused the EBU of applying its “non-transparent” algorithm unevenly, sanctioning some countries while letting others swap votes without raising suspicions.
During the live broadcast, Executive Supervisor Martin Osterdahl and the hosts suggested that there were “technical difficulties” that prevented certain countries from voting. Conveniently, all the countries affected by this supposed glitch were accused of wrongdoing. It appeared to many that the head of a body committed to media transparency had not, in fact, been transparent.
In its May statement, Romania also said it was considering legal action against the EBU over, among other things, reputational damage.
Romania searches for Swiss legal team in dispute with EBU
Friday’s statement from TVR also confirmed that its Board of Directors had given state television a mandate to “contact Swiss law firms” to assess whether it has a chance of winning its ongoing dispute with the European Broadcasting Union.
It specified that this is related to “the situation created at this year’s edition, when the organizer [EBU] cancelled Romania’s votes.”
According to Eurovision regulations, any dispute is settled under Swiss jurisdiction, since the EBU is based in Geneva.
Romania’s latest statement doesn’t give any further details about the dispute. However, back in May TVR listed some of its grievances about the EBU’s handling of the voting drama.
“The impact of these suspicions on the competition and on the reputation of the sanctioned [broadcasters] could have been completely eliminated if the EBU had communicated its concerns to the parties involved as soon as they were observed, ie on Wednesday, 11 May, after the second semi-final [jury show].”
“Had the EBU communicated to the delegations the notes given by the jurors of the six countries the day after the vote and convincingly explained the existence of an ‘irregular voting pattern,’ TVR would have had time to react to promptly investigate the allegations and correct the situation, if any.”
“In this way, on Thursday, May 12, we could eliminate any suspicion that hovered over the votes given by the jurors during the second semifinal, and during the gala, for the public, the finalists could be announced based on the notes of the jurors, not on those generated by the ‘algorithm.’”
“However, this would have been possible only if the EBU had treated TVR as a real partner and had taken into account the fact that the Eurovision Regulation is the one that gives full independence to national juries and that televisions can neither find out nor influence the scores. granted by jurors, than long after they were sent to the EBU. Thus, TVR did not find out until after the final the way in which the Romanian jurors voted in the semifinals.”
“Unfortunately, because the EBU decided to send us the relevant information only after seven days, all we could do was ask the Romanian jury for official explanations, “post-factum,” on the vote in the second semifinal. Even in this context, in which we have already been tried and sanctioned, without being given the opportunity to defend ourselves, TVR will collaborate with all other sanctioned televisions to find out if the reported irregularities were the result of an attempted fraud.”
“Another point to note is that the EBU has prevention and control mechanisms. When there is a suspicion of a jury, it may send observers to oversee the voting process. This is what happened this year when the EBU decided to send observers to two of the six sanctioned countries.”
“The conclusion of the observers was that the vote was regular and they did not report any misconduct or attempted fraud. This is one of the reasons why at the beginning of the final audition for the public, the EBU representative announced that all the votes cast by the jurors are valid.”
“In the case of these countries, the organizers did not report “irregular voting patterns.” Moreover, they were given the most points awarded, by “algorithm”, from the countries sanctioned for voting among themselves. Of the six countries accused of having an onerous deal to reach the final, only three succeeded. Of the three countries that received points by “algorithm” from sanctioned countries, all managed to enter the final.”
“The incomprehensible attitude of the EBU towards TVR, a traditional member of this organization, which deserves to be treated with respect, is also underlined by the fact that the Eurovision organizers chose to lie during the transmission of the final results of the competition. When it was Romania’s turn to announce the result of the jury’s vote, the organizers invoked a non-existent technical problem to present the notes provided by the “algorithm.””
“We reiterate what we said in our first statement: there was no technical problem! Eda Marcus was ready to go live, and the connection worked perfectly. The only reason we were forbidden to announce the vote of the Romanian jury, which had awarded 12 points to Moldova, was that we refused to accept the score imposed by the EBU.”
“Following the situation created and the image damage brought to the public television, the TVR representatives consider the withdrawal of Romania from the future editions of Eurovision and the action in court of the event organizers.”