The Eurovision Song Contest is organised yearly by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU-UER), together with the Host Broadcaster and some 40 Participating Broadcasters. Get to know the organisation and the people behind the biggest and most exciting song competition in the world!
The contest is overseen by the Reference Group on behalf of the Participating Broadcasters. Each Participating Broadcaster is represented by a Head of Delegation.
The Eurovision Song Contest is organized by the European Broadcasting Union, the world’s foremost alliance of public service media, representing 117 member organizations in 56 countries and an additional 34 Associates in Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Americas.
EBU organisers: The EBU supports and supervises the work of the Host Broadcaster and is the central point of contact of all Participating Broadcasters. Together with its Partners, the EBU is centrally dealing with all matters related to the brand, international marketing activities, rights management, voting, communications and online activities.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is the world’s leading alliance of public service media (PSM). We believe strong PSM is at the heart of democratic societies and are committed to championing and upholding its unique value at both a national and international level. We represent 119 member organizations in 56 countries in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East and also have 33 associate PSM organizations in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australasia.
Our Members operate almost 2,000 television, radio and online channels and services and offer a wealth of content across other platforms. Together, our Members reach audiences of more than one billion people around the world, broadcasting in more than 160 languages.
We campaign for a sustainable future for public service media, provide our Members with world-class content from news to sports and music, and build on our founding ethos of solidarity and co-operation to create a centre for learning and sharing.
Our business arm, Eurovision Media Services, enables media organizations and sport federations to maximise their content value by producing and delivering relevant sport, news and culture/entertainment content to the right audiences at the right time.
We employ 430 staff (permanent and temporary positions) of over 40 nationalities at our headquarters in Geneva and our worldwide branches and subsidiaries (Beijing, Brussels, Moscow, New York, Rome, Singapore and Washington DC).
Discover more about the EBU on www.ebu.ch.
Executive Supervisor: Since 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest has been organised under the supervision of the EBU. The EBU is represented by the Executive Supervisor, a role fulfilled by Martin Österdahl since mid-2020.
Martin Österdahl new Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisording. Martin Österdahl, a senior TV executive with 2 decades of experience, has been appointed Executive Supervisor for the Eurovision Song Contest and Junior Eurovision Song Contest. Martin was Executive Producer for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013 and 2016 when the event was hosted by Swedish EBU Member SVT in Malmö and Stockholm and was a member of the Reference Group between 2012 and 2018.
The decision was made by the EBU Director of Media Jean Philip De Tender together with the Chair of the ESC Reference Group, the Contest’s governing board, ZDF’s Dr Frank Dieter Freiling.
“Martin is the perfect candidate to continue and build on the exceptional work done by Jon Ola Sand over the past decade,” said EBU Director of Media Jean Philip De Tender. He continued: “The Eurovision Song Contest has been transformed under Jon Ola’s guidance, setting new standards in world-class television production. Martin is a great creative talent and has invaluable experience from his work as Executive Producer of two exceptional Contests and numerous other successful entertainment shows. He is an excellent leader and storyteller, which is core for us to work closely with EBU Members to develop and grow the world’s largest live music event in the next decade and beyond.”
Martin Österdahl will take over from Jon Ola Sand, who is stepping down after 10 years in the role, following the 65th Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam. Martin will begin working on the Eurovision Song Contest at the end of April 2020 and take over the Executive Supervisor role immediately after this year’s Grand Final on 16 May. He will also oversee the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, now in its 18th year, which is expected to take place in November.
Martin on becoming the new Executive Supervisor: ”The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s largest live music event and the longest-running show on television. Its ability to entertain and unite people across Europe and beyond is unique and something that should never be taken for granted. I feel greatly honoured to be given the opportunity to strive for its continued evolvement and popularity into the future.” He added: “I’m looking forward to joining the team in Geneva in May and can’t wait to get started.”
Martin’s career. Martin was previously Programme Director and Commissioner of Entertainment & Sport at SVT where he was responsible for many of their highest rating primetime shows as well as supervising live productions such as The Nobel Prize Ceremony and 2010 Royal Wedding.
He has extensive international experience in the music and media industries, having also worked in the UK, Russia, the USA, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway.
Martin has written novels that have been translated into 10 languages. His non-fiction work includes management literature on project leadership.
Passing the torch. Jon Ola Sand adds: “I’ve been working alongside Martin Österdahl for many years. First at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013 and then again in 2016 but also in the ESC Reference Group where Martin was a valued member for 7 years. I’m confident that the future of the Eurovision Song Contest is in very capable hands and that Martin is the right person to take this incredible show to the next level.”
Jon Ola will return to his native Norway to begin a new role at the head office of Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.
About the role of Executive Supervisor. The Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest oversees the preparation and organization of the event on behalf of the EBU. Together with their team, they provide the main point of contact for over 40 participating EBU Members and are in charge of the operation on their behalf, ensuring the Song Contest is delivered annually by the Host Broadcaster in accordance with the ESC rules.
Since 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest is being organised under the supervision of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The EBU is represented by the Executive Supervisor, a role fulfilled by Jon Ola Sand since 2011. After the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020, Martin Österdahl will take over the role.
Throughout the history of the contest, the Executive Supervisor was often referred to as the EBU scrutineer, most prominently when the presenters of the contest needed confirmation that the voting had completed and that a valid result was ready to be presented.
About Jon Ola Sand. The Norwegian-born Jon Ola Sand is the current Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest. He has nearly 20 years of experience in major productions and co-productions at Norwegian public broadcaster NRK and TV2 Norway as well as independent production companies.
He has produced or directed a variety of programmes, such as the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, the Norwegian Film Awards and the Norwegian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, Melodi Grand Prix.
Sand is a member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which hands out the EMMY Awards every year.
Before becoming the contest’s Executive Supervisor in 2011, Sand has been Head of Delegation at the contest for Norway from 1998 to 2005. He was commissioning editor at NRK until becoming the Executive Producer of the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo, after which he joined the EBU.
The role of the Executive Supervisor. The Executive Supervisor, along with a small staff, is overseeing the organisation of the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of the European Broadcasting Union. The organisation is based in Geneva, Switzerland. The Executive Supervisor and his team are the main point of contact for Participating Broadcasters, and for the EBU’s organisational partners for marketing, music distribution, PR and digital matters.
For several months during the year, the team is in extensive dialogue with broadcasters to secure their participation in the contest. From the day of their victory, the Executive Supervisor is guiding and advising the Host Broadcaster in the organisation process. He is in constant contact with the Executive Producer, who is the top executive in charge of the organisation on behalf of the Host Broadcaster.
The Executive Supervisor is also enforcing the Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest upon all Participating Broadcasters. In the event of a breach of the Rules, the Executive Supervisor reports this to the Reference Group, the governing body of the contest on behalf of the Participating Broadcasters, of which he is also one of eight members.
During the live shows, the Executive Supervisor oversees the TV production and monitors the voting procedure, to make sure a valid result is being presented in accordance with the Rules. Traditionally, the Executive Supervisor is being announced by the TV presenters to confirm that a valid result is available and ready to be presented.
Executive Supervisors through the years:
- 1956-1957: Rolf Liebermann (2)
- 1958-1963: Unknown (6)
- 1964-1965: Miroslav Vilček (2)
- 1966-1977: Clifford Brown (12)
- 1978-1992: Frank Naef (15)
- 1993-1995: Christian Clausen (3)
- 1996 and 1998-2002: Christine Marchal-Ortiz (6)
- 1997: Marie-Claire Vionnet (1)
- 2003: Sarah Yuen (1)
- 2004-2010: Svante Stockselius (7)
- 2011-2020: Jon Ola Sand
- 2021: Martin Österdahl
Since 2004, the contest has grown substantially. Not only has the contest grown from one to three live TV shows, but the event organization also grew as well. Since 2011, the Executive Supervisor was supported by an Event Supervisor, to oversee and coordinate all event-related matters on behalf of the EBU.
- 2011-2016: Sietse Bakker (6)
- 2016-today: Nadja Burkhardt
Reference Group: The Reference Group, established in 1998, is the executive committee of the Eurovision Song Contest. Its purpose is to oversee the organisation and guide the contest on behalf of the Participating Broadcasters.
The Reference Group is the Executive Committee for all Members, its purpose is to control and guide the Eurovision Song Contest.
The Reference Group is established by the Television Committee and its tasks include:
- approving the development and future format of the ESC;
- securing the financing of the ESC;
- modernizing the brand and raising awareness of the ESC;
- overseeing the yearly preparation by the Host Broadcaster.
The Reference Group meets 4 to 5 times each year on behalf of all Participating Broadcasters and is required to take decisions in the general interest of the ESC.
The Reference Group is composed of the following members:
- The Chairperson;
- 3 elected members from among the Heads of Delegations;
- 2 Executive Producers from previous host countries, as well as the Executive Producer of the current Host Broadcaster;
- Up to 2 invited members based on competence and experience
- The EBU Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor
Currently, the group consists of the following members.
- Dr. Frank-Dieter Freiling: Dr. Frank-Dieter Freiling from Germany is the Chairperson of the Reference Group of the Eurovision Song Contest. He has been in the field of media since 1987 when he started as a freelance journalist for the prestigious Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Over the last few years, he has been involved with international relations in the German broadcaster ZDF as the Director of International Affairs since 2000. ZDF is not a participating broadcaster of the Eurovision Song Contest in Germany (ARD/NDR is). It was considered an advantage to have a neutral Chairperson when electing him in 2009.
- Ayala Mizrachi (Deputy Executive Producer 2019): Ayala Mizrachi works for Israeli broadcaster KAN.
- Carla Bugalho (Executive Producer 2018): Carla Bugalho from RTP was the Deputy Executive Producer/Show Producer of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest and joined the Reference Group following Portugal’s victory in the Competition.
- David Tserunyan: David is the Armenian Head of Delegation for the Eurovision Song Contest and the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. He is a producer at Armenian public broadcaster AMPTV. He is also part of the Steering Group of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest.
- Inge van de Weerd (Executive Producer TV 2020): Rnge van de Weerd has been working at NOS since 1995 and, for more than 10 years, has been Executive Producer on NOS productions for Prince’s Day, parliamentary elections, and National Commemorations. She was also involved in major national events such as the Royal Wedding of Willem-Alexander and Maxima and promotions for Giro555. From 2007 to 2009, she acted as Head of Delegation for the Netherlands at the Eurovision Song Contest.
- Rachel Ashdown (appointed member): Rachel works in BBC Entertainment Commissioning where her projects include the Eurovision Song Contest selection show as well as a number of BBC1 Saturday night Entertainment night series including All Together Now. Prior to joining the BBC, she was a freelance Executive Producer specialising in Entertainment Series and Events. Rachel was appointed to become a member in 2018. The Reference Group has the ability to invite up to 2 extra professionals to join the group.
- Reto Peritz (elected member): Reto Peritz works for Swiss broadcaster SRF and serves as Head of Delegation.
- Aleksander Radic (elected member): Aleksander Radic has been involved with the Eurovision Song Contest for many years in the Slovenian delegation. He works at the Slovenian EBU Member RTVSLO and was re-elected for the second time to the Reference Group in 2017 for a two-year term.
- Yuval Cohen (Creative Director 2019): Yuval Cohen from Israel has rich experience in developing, editing and directing leading television productions and live events. Serving as Head of Programmes and Development in recent years at Channel Ten (10), he is a valued professional who has been in charge of the Israeli adaptation of The Voice (as Chief Director and Editor), has edited Dancing with the Stars for 3 years, did the Israeli Eurovision National Selection in 2010 (Harel Skaat) on Channel 2 (Reshet), and has worked on variety of live tv events. In addition, Cohen previously served as Reshet’s Editor in Chief for a variety of productions and genres, including drama, entertainment and reality programming, and has served as the Chief Editor of Gil Productions, an Israeli private leading production company, where he also directed and edited the highly successful docu-reality Baby Boom.
- Martin Österdahl (EBU representative): Martin Österdahl from Sweden is the Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest. He superseded Jon Ola Sand, who was the Executive Supervisor from 2011 to 2020. Österdahl was previously Programme Director and Commissioner of Entertainment & Sport at SVT where he was responsible for many of their highest rating primetime shows as well as supervising live productions such as The Nobel Prize Ceremony and 2010 Royal Wedding. He has extensive international experience in the music and media industries, having also worked in the UK, Russia, the USA, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway. Martin has written novels that have been translated into 10 languages. His non-fiction work includes management literature on project leadership.
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Reference Group as of June 2019: During the annual Heads of Delegation meeting in Tel Aviv, three positions were up for election. Italian representative Nicola Caligiore from RAI and Aleksander Radić from Slovenian broadcaster RTVSLO were re-elected, Swiss Head of Delegation Reto Peritz also got voted in. The Netherlands’ Emilie Sickinghe from AVROTROS will leave the Reference Group after serving two terms.
The newly composed Reference Group will get to work after the contest in Tel Aviv, when it will be joined by the Executive Producer of the 2020 contest.
Host Broadcaster: Since 1957 – a few exceptions aside – the Eurovision Song Contest is organised by the national public broadcaster of the country that won the year before. For the Host Broadcaster, organising the contest is often an unprecedented but exciting challenge. Therefore, the Host Broadcaster often cooperates closely with the Host City. The Host Broadcaster’s operations are being managed by its Executive Producer.
Heads of Delegations: Each Participating Broadcaster sends a delegation to the contest. While the artist is the most visible delegate, the Head of Delegation is actually in charge of the delegation. This person is the EBU’s main contact person, responsible for making sure their delegation acts in accordance with the Rules.
In football, each club has a coach. At the Olympics, each delegation has a ‘chef de mission’. At the Eurovision Song Contest, each participating delegation is being managed by the Head of Delegation.
Each public broadcaster taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest must appoint a Head of Delegation. This person is the European Broadcasting Union’s contact person and the leader of his or her delegation at the event.
A delegation, managed by the Head of Delegation, also includes a Head of Press, the actual participants, song writers, composers, backing vocalists and the artist’s entourage. The size of a delegation can vary greatly, from below 20 to nearly 50 people.
Traditionally, the delegation head visits the Heads of Delegation meeting in March, where everyone is being informed on the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest. The gathering also marks the official deadline to hand in the details of each country’s act.