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Since the new millennium began, Turkey has been one of the most successful countries in the Eurovision Song Contest. Sertab Erener managed to win the contest in 2003 and manga was the Runner Up in 2010. In addition, the Eurasian country scored six additional Top 10 results.
Despite all that success, on Sept 14th Ibrahim Sahin (TRT) stated that there are no plans to return to the contest and on November 7th 2013 the non-participation was confirmed.
Unlike many other European countries, the reason for the withdrawal was not due to financial reasons. So what caused Turkey to officially withdraw from the contest? The official reason is the dissatisfaction with the introduction of a mixed jury/televote voting system and the current status of the “Big Five”.
These are the same reasons that were cited by the broadcaster in 2013.
The first and honest thought that went through my head was “Yeah, right” which seems to reflect the opinion of many fans on social media websites. It appears that the majority of people are blaming TRT.
The reaction on our Forum was mostly negative with members blaming the broadcaster.
1. Big 5
The Turkish broadcaster is not in favor of the Big 5. The biggest financial contributors to the EBU are guaranteed a spot in the Finals therefore have the luxury not having to fight their way through one of the Semis. Turkey is not part of that group so they’re basically saying that it’s not fair if some countries get a free pass. The topic of the Big 5 deserves its own editorial but in a nutshell TRT doesn’t like it and feels strongly enough to justify a withdrawal.
The question is though: Why now?? The Big 5 system (back then we only had four) was introduced over a decade ago so is it possible that the broadcaster just now got upset over it? Sure it’s possible but does it make a lot of sense? Not really! The EBU made a statement that they were never approached by TRT regarding this matter prior to their 2013 withdrawal announcement so taking that into consideration it just doesn’t add up. Common sense dictates that if you have a concern or complaint you’ll address it accordingly with those involved but none of that occured.
2. Jury System
TRT does not like the jury system that was reintroduced in 2009. Statistically the televote results have been kind to Turkey while the juries brought down their overall score. Let’s have a closer look at that:
2009: Overall 4th place – Televote: 3rd (203) Jury: 7th (114)
2010: Overall 2nd place – Televote: 2nd (177) Jury: 8th (119)
2011: Overall 13th (DNQ) – Televote: 10th (54) Jury: 12th (58)
2012: Overall 7th place – Televote: 4th (176) Jury: 22nd (50)
So based on those numbers Turkey may have a valid reason to be unhappy with the juries votes.
Let’s remind ourselves why the juries were brought back by the EBU which was in response to broadcasters complaints about the voting which they felt was politically charged along with neighbourly and diaspora voting advantages (or disadvantages).
It is no secret that Turkey has a lot of diaspora in many Western European countries including Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, France and Belgium. so most people agree that Turkey gets a healthy headstart regardless of the song. Some people may argue that Turkey sends quality entries every year and deserved every outcome however considering that the countries mentioned above gave high points to Turkey every year even in years where those countries with no Turkish diaspora gave little to no points (ex: 2005 & 2006) it does raise a red flag. So when applying the facts and a healthy portion of common sense, it’s quite obvious that Turkey has had a major advantage in the televote.
The purpose of bringing back the juries was to balance out those advantages and to make it more fair. Needless to say we still have a long road ahead of us before we’ll get there.
It is not the broadcaster’s fault that diaspora exists but even many fans who are actually against any jury involvement are questioning TRT’s motives.
Recently Turkvision was launched by the TRT and even though the spokesperson says it’s not an alternative to Eurovision, the rumor mill keeps spinning and whether or not those claims are justified remains to be seen.
EBU Eurovision also advised that talks are still ongoing so whether or not there may be a chance for Turkey to return afterall are unknown and only time will tell.
— EBU EUROVISION (@EBU_Eurovision) November 11, 2013
The tweet clearly says that there was never an apology from the EBU which is in conflict with one of TRT’s statements.
Adding everything up everything we know, the entire situation just seems rather fishy and I question the Turkish broadcaster’s intent and motivation.
It would be foolish to pretend that everything is perfect in the Eurovision world and both the televoting and the jury votings are flawed to a degree. Whether or not we can achieve complete fairness is something I wouldn’t even dare to predict but throwing the towel like that seems rather counterproductive.
The biggest losers in this whole situation are the Turkish members. They are some of the most dedicated fans, even without Turkey in the contest, they are the 4th most represented country on our website which just shows their passion for the contest. As a matter of fact, they tend to be the most outspoken critics of TRT cause in the end they know more about that situation than anybody else.
In the end I really hope the EBU will be able to convince TRT to return to the contest without having to give in into what I consider unreasonable demands.
We would like to hear from you, especially the Turkish readers on what your thoughts are on this topic and what you think TRT is up to. Also, don’t forget to register on our Forum so we can feature your thoughts in our next Editorial.