Following complaints that some people in Azerbaijan who voted for Armenia were visited by the Police, the Reference Group of the European Broadcasting Union convened to discuss the matter. Today they released the following statement announcing their decision:
EBU decision on Azerbaijan
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) received responses from Azerbaijan regarding allegations that telephone voters in Azerbaijan who voted for the Armenian song in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest were interrogated by security police.
Ictimai, the EBU’s Azeri Member which broadcast this year’s Song Contest from Moscow in May, confirmed its commitment to free and fair voting. While two individuals had been invited to the Ministry of National Security, Ictimai said, the Ministry of National Security had given assurances that nobody had been questioned, either officially or unofficially, on voting in the competition itself.
The EBU’s Director General, Jean Réveillon, said he took note of the statements. However, he stressed that the freedom to vote for any song except the one of the country where you are watching is one of the cornerstones of the contest. “Any breach of privacy regarding voting, or interrogation of individuals, is totally unacceptable,” he added.
The EBU committee responsible for running the Eurovision Song Contest, the so-called Reference Group, examined the matter at a meeting in Oslo on 11 September 2009 and decided to amend the rules of the Eurovision Song Contest to hold the participating broadcaster strictly liable for any disclosure of information which could be used to identify voters. The new rule aims to ensure that voters’ privacy is respected, and if it is not the EBU will be in a position to impose appropriate sanctions on the offending broadcaster.