The Reference Group welcomes three new members, but doesn’t grow bigger as three members have left the EBU committee that organises and oversees the contest.
Three new faces, three new women
All three new members have been appointed by the EBU, and they are all women, replacing three men, bringing a better gender balance in the Reference Group.
Those three men were Edoardo Grassi, who seemingly lost his seat after loosing his job as Head of the French Delegation, Martin Österdahl, Executive Producer of the 2016 contest (who was appointed for two years) and João Nuno Nogueir, Exective Producer of the 2018 contest.
Traditionally, the Executive Producers of the two previous contest are present in the Group, but this tradition was broken when the EBU did not appoint Pavlo Hrytsak (Executive Producer of the 2017 contest) last year. Despite the departure of João Nuno Nogueir, the 2018 team is still in the Group with the appointment of Carla Bugalho. Not only was she the deputy Executive Producer and the Show Producer for 2018, she is also the Portuguese Head of Delegation.
As usual, the Executive Producer of the next contest has been appointed to sit in the committee. Zivit Davidovich, from Israeli broadcaster KAN, thus joins the group for at least one year.
Finally, the EBU invited BBC Entertainment Commissioning Editor Rachel Ashdown to sit in the Reference Group, as an “extra professional member”, symbolically taking the seat of Edoardo Grassi.
What’s the Reference Group and who else is in it?
The ESC Reference Group is a committee of experts working on behalf of the 42 participating broadcasters. Its mission is to oversee, guide and control the contest and its brand. It helps in the organisation of the next contest, overseeing the preparations by the host broadcaster and securing funds for its organisation. It also enforces the rules (the Reference Group was very active during the 2017 Russo-Ukrainian crisis over Russia’s act), approves or selects the host city, etc.
The Reference Group normally has at least 8 members : a chairman, three Heads of Delegations elected by their peers (for two years, renewable terms), the Executive Producer of the next contest, two previous Executive Producers, as well as the Eurovision Executive Supervisor. The Group can also invite up to two extra professionals.
Below is the 2019 Reference Group : it should remain the same until the end of the year, when the Heads of Delegations election will take place, as well as the likely appointment of the 2020 Executive Producer.
The Group is currently missing one “previous Eurovision Executive Producer”, although Jon Ola Sand was the Executive Producer for the 2010 contest. As such, there are technically two previous Executive Producers in the committee, although one of them has not been appointed for this reason. Moreover, before the end of 2017, the Reference group had always respected the rule of having the two previous Executive Producers in the Group.
What do you think of the new Reference Group? Why do you think Rachel Ashdown was appointed? Will it change anything for the next edition of Eurovision? Tell us more in the comments below or on social media at @escxtra !