Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Eurovision backlash: BBC hit by wave of complaints for ‘offensive’ coverage

BBC slammed by Tice for ‘wasting’ money on Eurovision

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It comes after the United Kingdom was handed a crushing defeat in the contest, with James Newman scoring nil points. The competition, which was held in Rotterdam, Netherlands, after the show was cancelled in 2020, was won by Italy with rock band Maneskin’s Zitti E Buoni last month.


In the fortnightly report for the BBC complaints service, 229 complaints were received regarding “offensive or disrespectful commentary and humour”.

Viewers also complained about claims the lead singer of Eurovision winners Maneskin “could be seen taking drugs”.

The band, who won with the song Zitti E Buoni, had “strongly refuted the allegations of drug use” that emerged on social media after Damiano David appeared to bend over a table in the contest’s green room while on camera.

The European Broadcasting Union said in a statement that Mr David, frontman of the Italian rock group, had returned a negative result in a drugs test since the event.


Following the UK’s defeat, it can also be revealed the British public broadcaster received complaints claiming the Eurovision Song Contest was “political and a waste of the licence fee.”

The contest created debate amongst Peers in Parliament after the UK Government was accused of throwing “touring musicians under a bus” in failing to secure visa-free travel for artists with the EU.

Under the Brexit trade deal, performers wanting to tour Europe will be expected to secure work permits for each individual member state they visit and face further red tape for equipment and crew.

Liberal Democrat Lord Jones of Cheltenham asked Lord Frost: “Is the minister making any progress on negotiating a new deal for the creative sector touring Europe?

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“While he’s thinking of a plausible answer to that, when he decided in the negotiations to reject the EU’s generous offer and threw touring musicians under a bus, did he anticipate, is he surprised by or does he accept any responsibility at all for the humiliation of our country scoring zero – nul points – in the Eurovision song contest?”

Responding, Lord Frost said: “I am happy to accept responsibility for many things but I don’t think I can reasonably have accepted the effect of the result on Saturday night.”

He added: “Of course we work to support all our creative industries in the situation that now prevails.”

Responding to the political complaints, the BBC said: “Ever since the Eurovision Song Contest first burst onto our television screens in 1956, the competition has continued to be a staple springtime viewing for BBC audiences.

“The accusation that the contest’s voting is ‘political’ is nothing new.

“The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is strongly committed to secure the fairness of the Eurovision Song Contest and has implemented a wide range of measures to ensure this.

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“Eurovision is the most-watched, live non-sporting event in the world and the 2021 Contest provided BBC viewers with over eight hours of content in three shows.

“The Grand Final on BBC One attracted an average of 7.4 million viewers. It is extremely cost-effective for a popular prime time entertainment programme. “

The UK’s hopeful James Newman scored zero points from the jury vote and from the public vote, the only entry to do so poorly.

He took the defeat in good humour, drinking a beer and standing up to applause from the live audience in the arena.

Newman, who is the older brother of pop star John Newman, had hoped to win over viewers with his rendition of upbeat track Embers, which was inspired by the end of lockdown.

The UK is no stranger to the bottom of the Eurovision leaderboard and came in last place in 2019 with Michael Rice’s Bigger Than Us.

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