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No changes in Maltese selection process despite the country’s worst results in a decade

photo: Thomas Hanses / EBU / www.eurovision.tv

MALTA – No changes will be made to the Eurovision selection process despite Malta registering its worst result in a decade during last week’s song contest, PBS chief executive John Bundy has said. Claudia Faniello’s song Breathlessly placed 16th of 18 countries in the second Eurovision Semi-Final last Thursday, the country’s lowest ranking since the current qualification system was introduced in 2008. Ms Faniello received a creditable result from national juries, finishing 8th, but failed to garner a single point from the televoting, dragging down her final placing. The singer qualified from Malta’s national selection process after several unsuccessful attempts in previous years and was chosen solely by a public tele-vote after the jury component was removed for this year’s edition. The result, however, did not come as a surprise to anyone following the pre-competition buzz, where bookies had Malta tipped to be eliminated in the semi-finals and critics raised serious doubts about the choice of song, albeit praising Ms Faniello’s vocal performance.

Writing on Facebook after the semi-final, music producer Howard Keith Debono, part of the team behind Ira Losco’s Eurovision 2016 entry, highlighted the value of changing song choice (as happened last year) after unfavourable indications. He also described the 100 per cent televoting system as a “big risk”, noting that Maltese audience preferences were not necessarily mirrored across Europe, as well as raising questions about staging and the importance of factors such as the artist’s profile and online engagement.

But speaking to the Times of Malta after returning from Kiev, PBS CEO Mr Bundy took umbrage at the suggestion that Ms Faniello’s result had been the worst in years, pointing to the strong jury vote and changing circumstances year to year.

“We are very disappointed with the result because compared to some of the countries that made it through, we had a song that was just as good,” he said. “But we’ve been going through this for the past 45 years. Last year expectations were high, we spent a lot of money, and we still didn’t win. Ultimately, it’s a competition. If you look at the comments from journalists and even the festival directors, many thought it was a pity we didn’t go through.”

Mr Bundy said the singer and the whole team had done all they could and left no stone unturned in their preparations, but insisted the televoting selection process and the refusal to change the song choice had not played a part in the result.

“While I remain in this role, the 100 per cent televoting will remain. There were a number of times we didn’t get through, even when we had a jury; the jury just gives you someone to blame when things don’t go your way,” he said. “The people pick a government every five years; I think they can be trusted to pick a song. Why should we let the public pick a song and then ditch it because we think it’s not going well?”

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