Eurovision’s Trial By Jury

“Eurovision Song Contest” chiefs appear so fed up with complaints that the competition is being “rigged” by countries voting for their neighbours that they’re bringing back juries for this year’s contest in Moscow.

Terry Wogan, who hosts the show for BBC, was so piqued by this year’s voting patterns – when Russia won after receiving 12-point maximums from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus and Armenia – that he came close to quitting.

He’s done the show for 37 years, during which time he’s become famed for his barbed witticisms, but the 2008 contest in Serbia had him wondering if he should continue.

“I have to decide whether I want to do this again. Western European participants have to decide whether they want to take part from here on in, because their prospects are poor,” he said at the time.

The U.K.’s entrant, former dustman Andy Abraham, got only 14 total votes and trailed in last place.

“Nothing is more democratic than the vote of the public,” said Eurovision executive supervisor Svante Stockselius. “But a jury takes the opportunity to listen to the songs several times before they make up their minds. … We believe a combination will make the show more interesting.”

“After the public debate about neighbour and diaspora voting, we decided to give the national juries a say,” said Eurovision reference group chairman Ruurd Bierman.

The winner in Moscow will be decided by a mix of opinions delivered by the juries, which is intended to balance the partisan telephone voting from members of the public watching at home.

Until 1997, when the competition switched to televoting, national juries were entirely responsible for allocating the Eurovision votes.

Next year’s competition – the 54th time it’s been held – will be in May, although the exact date hasn’t been scheduled. It will take place at Moscow Olympiski Arena.