Eurovision song contest faces questions over its text voting system

The winner of the Eurovision song contest could be called into question because most countries taking part will allow text voting. By Leigh Holmwood

The winner of the Eurovision song contest could be called into question because most countries taking part in tomorrow night's final will allow text voting, despite the BBC banning it due to its unreliability.

The continued use of SMS voting across Europe is bound to raise fears about who wins the contest, which takes place in Serbia tomorrow night.

The BBC banned SMS voting from programmes following the spate of fake TV scandals, saying the technology was not accurate enough to guarantee that all text votes were counted in time.

Sources have confirmed that the BBC has raised the issue with the European Broadcasting Union, the body that runs the song contest.

"Conversations have been happening with the EBU and we have said to people this is our position," a BBC source said.

"We have shared the findings of our review with the EBU, and they have incorporated some of it to inform everyone of what we have found and how they can work more effectively, but ultimately it is up to each country how they want to vote."

The EBU cannot force individual national broadcasters to ban text voting and the majority have said they will continue to do so.

In the UK, viewers will only be allowed to vote by phone.

A spokesman for the EBU said that people would be able to vote by SMS or phone depending on "territorial circumstances".

The Europe-wide voting system is run by the German firm Digame, which also oversees voting for shows such as German Idol and Big Brother.

"From the Balearics to the Urals, Digame is enabling more than 100 million viewers to choose the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest," it says on its website.

It is not the first time that fears have been raised over the accuracy of Eurovision voting.

Last year, revealed that the EBU had looked into claims of voting irregularities.

Consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers conducted an audit of the tele-voting system, but the head of the contest, Svante Stockselius, said no irregularities had been found.

Malta led calls for the Eurovision voting system to be overhauled, calling for phone votes in some former Soviet bloc countries to be removed, while Ireland and Andorra were also said to be unhappy about the scoring.

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Leigh Holmwood

The GuardianTramp

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