Wednesday, after several acts of censorship during its broadcast of the first semi-final of Eurovision 2018, the Chinese broadcaster Mango TV lost its partnership with the EBU.
Blurring flags and skipping acts
Mango TV, part of Hunan TV, broadcasted the first semi-final online this wednesday, with very strong edits.
Two performances were completely skipped by the online broadcast: Albania and Ireland. The presence of many tatoos on the arms of Albania‘s Eugent Bushpepa, was the cause of the Albanian edit. Indeed, earlier this year, new government regulations banned tatoos from Chinese broadcasts. This had notably affected Chinese footballers until now, but Eugent’s were too much for the censors.
As for Ireland, the presence of two male dancers whose intimacy in the performance)did not please the censors either. Depiction of homosexuality is also forbidden on Chinese TV.
It has also been noted that during the Swiss performance, rainbow flags in the public had been blurred on the online broadcast.
The EBU’s reaction
After finding out about the edits, the European Broadcasting Corporation (EBU) reacted quickly and firmly, by ending its partnership with Mango TV.
On the 9th of May, Chinese broadcaster Mango TV broadcast the first Semi-Final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest live but two performances were censored. This is not in line with the EBU’s values of universality and inclusivity and our proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music. It is with regret that we will therefore immediately be terminating our partnership with the broadcaster and they will not be permitted to broadcast the second Semi-Final or the Grand Final.
Mango TV has reworked its editing since, but since it still has to abide by Chinese law, the new edits cannot satisfy EBU standards. The broadcaster have added the Albanian performance now, even though they still blurred the tattoos. The Irish performance is however still not there.
The Irish participant in Lisbon, Ryan O’Shaughnessy commented on the matter on his Twitter account, which you can see below:
Russia’s commentators described our performance as a great ‘male friendship’ and China censored the rainbow flags on Tuesday night. The EBU have since revoked chinas rights to broadcast the final! Great decision by the EBU #LoveIsLove #Together #Ireland
— Ryan O'Shaughnessy (@Ryan_Acoustic) May 11, 2018
China at the Eurovision Song Contest
While China does not participate in the contest, Mango TV has been broadcasting Eurovision since 2015. They are an online service, originally acting as the replay service for Hunan Televisions. Hunan, the second biggest Chinese broadcaster, is the parent company for Mango TV.
Law and Eurovision broadcasting: a history
Law interfering in a broadcast is nothing new in Eurovision. In 2005, Lebanon was about to participate in Eurovision for the first time. However, Lebanese law forbade the broadcaster Télé-Liban to show any Israeli content. Unable to broadcast all the performances, Télé-Liban chose to withdraw two months before the contest. Because they withdrew quite late in the process, EBU decided to ban Lebanon for several years.
While the situation is a bit different, since Lebanon were participants until their withdrawal, the fact remains that laws have interfered in the contest before. But whenever they did, no compromise was possible.
What do you think about the decision taken by EBU? Let us know!
What do you think? Is there a way to make a compromise between Eurovision rules, Eurovision spirit, and national laws? Or is Eurovision a “take it or leave it” matter? Tell us more on the comments below, or on social media at @escxtra !