Romanian TV threatens legal action and Eurovision withdrawal

TVR Romania
TVR HQ in Bucharest

Romanian broadcaster TVR is threatening the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) with legal action for harm done to its public image after its Eurovision Song Contest jury was caught rigging votes at the second semi final on 12 May 2022.

In a lengthy and strongly-worded statement posted online, TVR hints they might withdraw from Eurovision at an upcoming meeting with Eurovision executive supervisor Martin Österdahl.

Dan Cristian Turturica – the President Director General of Romania’s public television station – has since invited Österdahl to appear during a live talk show on Monday and talk about the situation.

Unfair example

WRS from Romania rehearsed his song Llámame for the first time at the PalaOlimpico in Turín
WRS from Romania rehearsed his song Llámame for the first time at the PalaOlimpico in Turín

Along with RTCG of Montenegro, TVR has accused the EBU of applying what it calls a “non-transparent algorithm” unfairly, making an example of six countries while others continue to swap votes without raising suspicion.

On Thursday the EBU issued a statement about the incident:

“The pattern in question was detected as irregular by the pan-European Voting Partner and acknowledged by the Independent Voting Monitor, as five of these six countries were ranked outside the Top 8 by the juries in the 15 other countries voting in the same Semi-Final (which included three of the Big Five: Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom). Additionally, four of the six countries were ranked in the Bottom 6 of the other 15 countries voting in this Semi-Final. A jury voting pattern irregularity of such a scale is unprecedented.”

Although the problem was detected in the Thursday semifinal, an analysis of the votes confirmed by the EBU and the so-called rigged votes would not have changed which countries made the grand final. The EBU chose not to make any announcement at the time as it might have risked some kind of backlash against the six performers representing each broadcaster. The announcement was released as the telephone lines closed and the votes from the six countries disregarded based on destroyed trust.

Incomprehensible

TVR in its post reiterates claims against other countries, but also appears to focus its ire on what it calls the ‘incomprehensible’ way the EBU chose to handle the situation: only making public the claim as voting closed on Saturday evening and telling viewers there was a technical hitch with connecting to some spokespeople.

“When it was the turn of the Romanian representative 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.

“(TVR) reiterates 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.”

Track record

Romanian TVR hasn’t had an easy ride with the EBU. In 2016, the organisation suspended the broadcaster from all EBU member services due to the repeated non-payment of debts and the threat of insolvency. This in turn disqualified their 2016 entry, “Moment of Silence” sung by Ovidiu Anton from participating in the contest.

Image Credits: EBU.

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