Editorial: “Eurovision Executive Supervisor”; a role for the Northern Europeans only | Is it time for the south?

Jon Ola Sand’s earlier announcement that he is stepping down the role of the Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2020 after the contest in the Netherlands ends, has prematurely started the debate about who is going to replace him.

A quick glance at his predecessors, it is more than enough for someone to realize that, out of the 65 years of existence of the contest, 63 of them were under the leadership of northern Europeans only.

Is it time for the south to take control? And if so, is there any public broadcaster from the countries of the south that can claim this position?

A privilege for the few

Observing the list of the Executive Supervisors of the competition since 1956, as published on the official website, we can see that the only time, in which one of the countries of the South was in this position, was back in 1964-1965 with Miroslav Vilček, from Tito’s powerful then-united Yugoslavia. Let’s see the list in detail:

1956-1957: Rolf Liebermann (2 contests) – Swiss
1958-1963: Unknown (6 contests)
1964-1965: Miroslav Vilček (2 contests) – Yugoslavia (Croatian)
1966-1977: Clifford Brown (12 contests) – British
1978-1992: Frank Naef (15 contests) – Swiss
1993-1995: Christian Clausen (3 contests) – Danish
1996 and 1998-2002: Christine Marchal-Ortiz (6 contests) – French
1997: Marie-Claire Vionnet (1 competition) – French
2003: Sarah Yuen (1 contest) – British
2004-2010: Svante Stockselius (7 contests) – Swedish
2011-2020: Jon Ola Sand (10 competitions) – Norwegian
2021: ?

In the 65 years of the Eurovision Song Contest, ten different EBU executives have been assigned as Executive Supervisors of the contest. Their countries of origin were seven (Switzerland, United Kingdom, France, Yugoslavia, Sweden, Denmark and Norway) and out of these – as we have mentioned above – only one country was part of the south, with a term of office of only two years.

Is the role of the Executive Supervisor an exclusive right of the countries of the North? Shouldn’t there be a provision for a proportional and rotational system in senior positions of the EBU  which will cover all of Europe’s geographical corners? This need is now more urgent than ever, since we can clearly say that the EBU is run exclusively by Northern Europeans! Current EBU’s president is Irish, president of the Reference Group is German and Executive Supervisor is Norwegian.

Besides, EBU members and subscriptions cover the whole spectrum of the European continent.

Is the South capable?

Here comes the question, of course, whether the public broadcasters of the countries of the South have an executive who could take on this neuralgic position? Is there anyone with the knowledge, experience, but also the disposition to do so?

Personally I think yes there are! Besides, in the south there are some colossi in the field of television such as RAI and TVE, in Italy and Spain respectively. Two very big TV stations, with great productions, executives with know-how, and history in the competition.

Now we go to our own neighborhood. ERT may not have been willing to claim this role as shown in recent years, but CyBC does!

Cyprus public television competes equally local private television stations, often ending first on the daily television chart. It has a very commercial program and can boast of having a strong presence in social media, successfully making the transition to the new era.

Share of all the above, except of course its worthy staff, is credited to Michalis Maratheftis, who is the general manager of CyBC since 2017.

One of his achievements is the impressive track record of Cyprus in recent years in the Eurovision Song Contest, with entries that stand out and are still being discussed today. His greater goal is to win, which will not be long if he and his team continue with the same stubbornness and enthusiasm.

The time until May 2020 is long enough and the candidates to appear are many, but the case of Michalis Marathethis seems to be worth a look at the EBU headquarters in Geneva!

We Greeks have proven that we can handle whatever role we are assigned to, so why not to this as well?