The Eurovision Reference group announced today that in future, participating broadcasters will be held more accountable to ensure voting integrity in the Eurovision Song Contest. There decision comes after a full investigation into allegations that Azerbaijan tried to fix voting. A Lithuanian video published in May allegedly showed men offered cash by Russian-speakers to vote for Azerbaijan. The EBU today acknowledged that this video had been taken seriously. No direct link between these people and Ictimai (the Azerbaijani national broadcaster) was proven however, so Azerbaijan will not be punished this time.

In future however any rigging of votes could see a country banned from the contest for up to three years!

Dr Frank Dieter Freiling, chairman of the Reference Group, compared the new rules to football, saying

“Just as football clubs are in principle accountable for the behaviour of their fans, we will hold – on a case-by-case basis – participating broadcasters accountable and make them responsible to prevent voting irregularities in favour of their entry.”

“The winner of the Eurovision Song Contest is decided by professional juries and viewers at home, each having a 50 per cent stake in the result,” says Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor of the Contest, on behalf of the EBU.

“In this contest, there is no place for organised attempts to unfairly influence the outcome.”

In future jurors names from all countries will be published before the contest, and that their votes will be published online after the contest.