SWEDEN 🇸🇪 With no other fan site daring to report about this story, we decide to do so, as it came as a surprise that the source was one of the top Swedish newspapers. Expressen has an extensive post with interviews and editorial queries regarding the power Christer Björkman has not only in Melodifestivalen but also in the Eurovision Song Contest plus the newspaper wonders why Jon Ola Sand is not revealing his salary.
The overall question is how Christer and his friends (who own the companies who run the production of Melodifestivalen and Eurovision Song Contest for years now) are involved in power games and projects of unknown millions of worth.
Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in Lisbon in Portugal. On Saturday it’s time for the big lavish final to face hundreds of millions of television viewers. The total price tag for this year’s competition, the 63th scheme, is estimated to be over 24 million Euros. For the most part, there are TV license payers in the participating 43 countries and the host country in question.
The EBU also takes out high fees from member states to organize the competition – a sum hitherto kept secret. In an interview with Expressen, the Norwegian man Jon Ola Sand reveals how much the member states pay together, most responsible for the Eurovision Song Contest at EBU. “We get five million euros a year,” says Sand.
But somehow the silence was the rule also on SVT. The national broadcaster until recently never reached anything about their Eurovision costs and they still not revealing to anyone the Melodifestivalen ones just keep always saying that they rely on sponsors. Now Hanna Dowling, Head of Corporate Communication, writes in an email: “SVT pays the EBU almost SEK 4 million in membership fee annually. For this, we receive service in the form of news exchanges between all members, technical and legal advice, participate in program development work and more. In addition to that, SVT annually purchases certain sports rights (such as the EBU has purchased for its member countries), help with major news events, international transfers, the right to send ESC etc and the total cost of this was almost 20 million in 2017. ”
In order for the countries to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest, each country must also pay a compulsory membership fee and other fees to the EBU of a total of SEK 470 million – but a large part of this money goes to other services described by the SVT above. The EBU also receives funds from sponsors. This year, the German manufacturer of light sources Osram, Spanish low cost airline Vueling Airlines and the Portuguese beer brand Super Bock, are sponsors. Eurovision Manager Jon Ola Sand does not want to tell how much the EBU receives from the sponsors – the agreements are secret. “I can not comment on this because it is a contract between EBU and the sponsors. But we try to get as much money as possible”, he says.
The EBU with Jon Ola Sand does not carry out any assignments themselves, but exposes all duties to private companies. “We have a partnership with a company in London that manages communications and PR, we have an agreement with a company in the Netherlands that makes the web, we have an agreement with a German company that conducts telephone voting and we have a record company in Denmark that manages rights . The companies have a turnover of tens of millions of kronor on their cooperation with EBU. Host countries, in turn, also contract – under the EBU supervision – different private companies to organize the competition.
Jon Ola Sands’s income is also protected from insight when he emigrated from Norway to Switzerland when he received the assignment as responsible for the Eurovision Song Contest. In the tax haven Switzerland, income is not public information.
Several of the companies are owned and operated by Swedes – one of these is Christer Björkman. In Sweden, the Melodifestivalen General Björkman has had the greatest power for the competition for almost 20 years. For several years he has also been a major power factor in the Eurovision Song Contest. He was a competitor for Eurovision by Ukraine in 2017 and is now a competitor of the competition in Portugal and hired by Portuguese television. He has also joined the powerful Reference Group to check that the EBU rules are followed. Björkman’s husband Martin Kagemark also works with Melodifestivalen and Eurovision via Björkman’s company Christer Björkman Artistproduktion AB. This year’s contest in Eurovision is Kagemark Stage director.
Björkman’s friend and colleague Henric von Zweigbergk works both with the Melodifestivalen and Eurovision – in Lisbon he is the Floor Manager. Ola Melzig and Tobias Åberg are production managers and friends of Björkman . Everyone is working for Portuguese television. Björkman and Kagemark are also friends with Eurovision Manager Jon Ola Sand and his partner Mattias Carlsson. Carlsson has worked for several years, through his Norwegian company, both with the Melodifestivalen in Sweden and with Eurovision. He was the Viewing Room Director in Stockholm in 2016 and has the same assignment now in Lisbon. By 2016, his company sold more than four million Norwegian kronor.
The friendship between the four began when Björkmans and Sands partners met during the study time at the ballet academy in Gothenburg – something that Björkman also writes openly in his book “Generalen. Only I know who wins.” When the Expressen a few days before the race meets Jon Ola Sand in a press center together with a representative of the British company Premier who manages all communications for EBU and Eurovision, he becomes an interview of questions about the relationship of friendship during the interview. “It is natural for professionals to know each other and that Mattias who works at such a high level in Sweden and Norway is hired by those who wish to contribute”.
Immediately after the interview, Jon Ola Sand Expressen asks to turn off the camera. The laugh and smile have disappeared and he has a different look. “You should have gone through the questions first,” he says. You are not serious and just want to mess the EBU. When I thank for the interview and pick up my hand , Jon Ola Sand looks barely at me and reluctantly takes his hand . “Have a nice Eurovision,” he says shortly before he and the press officer leave the room.
We hope Expressen and post author, Michael Syrén don’t see their accreditation eventually reduced or lost as it happened with oikotimes.com due to the 2014, 2015 incidents of revelations.