The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has denied press reports that it might exclude countries with poor human rights records from hosting future Eurovision contests.
Spokesperson Karen Mazzoli told journalists that reports that the EBU -- which organizes the Eurovision song contest -- will discuss a proposal in June to choose host countries according to their human rights record are not correct.
"The stories that are out in the press at the moment about the EBU excluding members from the European song contest are not true," she said, adding that the only thing being discussed in the entity right now, which will be formalized at a Strasbourg general assembly in May, "relates to values of public service broadcasters."
She said the Geneva-based EBU is preparing a proposal to stress shared values for public service broadcasters. But the proposal includes "no word of excluding people from hosting the song contest."
"The [sponsors] also felt that it was important to search for the values that we share and unite us while recognizing the diversity within our culturally rich Europe," she said. "Therefore we are putting together a declaration on core values of public service media. But for the moment this has no consequences for members who currently don't live up to those values."
The EBU's members include 56 countries and 74 public broadcasters.
Nordic media had reported that the proposal contains rules requiring competing countries to be democratic. The reports appeared after Sweden's entry won this year's Eurovision contest in Baku, securing the Scandinavian country's right to host the competition next year.
Human rights groups criticized Azerbaijan's hosting of this year's Eurovision, accusing Baku of alleged abuses, including restrictions of free speech and the use of torture in prisons.