Eurovision Song Contest

Eurovision Song Contest

Overview
The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual competition held among active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union
European Broadcasting Union
The European Broadcasting Union is a confederation of 74 broadcasting organisations from 56 countries, and 49 associate broadcasters from a further 25...

 (EBU).

Each member country submits a song to be performed on live television
Live television
Live television refers to a television production broadcast in real-time, as events happen, in the present. From the early days of television until about 1958, live television was used heavily, except for filmed shows such as I Love Lucy and Gunsmoke. Video tape did not exist until 1957...

 and then casts votes for the other countries' songs to determine the most popular song in the competition. The Contest has been broadcast every year since its inauguration in 1956 and is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world.
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Encyclopedia
The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual competition held among active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union
European Broadcasting Union
The European Broadcasting Union is a confederation of 74 broadcasting organisations from 56 countries, and 49 associate broadcasters from a further 25...

 (EBU).

Each member country submits a song to be performed on live television
Live television
Live television refers to a television production broadcast in real-time, as events happen, in the present. From the early days of television until about 1958, live television was used heavily, except for filmed shows such as I Love Lucy and Gunsmoke. Video tape did not exist until 1957...

 and then casts votes for the other countries' songs to determine the most popular song in the competition. The Contest has been broadcast every year since its inauguration in 1956 and is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world. It is also one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world, with audience figures having been quoted in recent years as anything between 100 million and 600 million internationally. Eurovision has also been broadcast outside Europe to such places as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Uruguay and Venezuela despite the fact that that they do not compete. Since 2000, the Contest has also been broadcast over the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

, with more than 74,000 people in almost 140 countries having watched the 2006 edition online.

Studies have been made that suggest voting bloc
Voting bloc
A voting bloc is a group of voters that are so motivated by a specific concern or group of concerns that it helps determine how they vote in elections. The divisions between voting blocs are known as cleavage...

s are a major factor, with certain countries tending to form "clusters" or "cliques", sometimes due to sharing similar cultural and/or ethnic communities, by frequently voting for one another, and that these blocs on at least two editions of the contest have crucially affected the result of the competition.

Artists whose international careers were directly launched into the spotlight following their participation and victory at Eurovision include ABBA
ABBA
ABBA was a Swedish pop group formed in Stockholm in 1970 which consisted of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Agnetha Fältskog...

, who won the Contest for Sweden in 1974 with their song "Waterloo", and Celine Dion
Celine Dion
Céline Marie Claudette Dion, , , is a Canadian singer. Born to a large family from Charlemagne, Quebec, Dion emerged as a teen star in the French-speaking world after her manager and future husband René Angélil mortgaged his home to finance her first record...

, who won the Contest for Switzerland in 1988 with the song "Ne partez pas sans moi
Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi
"Ne partez pas sans moi" is the Swiss winning entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1988, performed by Céline Dion. It was released as a single in Europe on May 6, 1988...

".

Origins


In the 1950s, as a war-torn Europe
Effects of World War II
The effects of World War II had far-reaching implications for most of the world. Many millions of lives had been lost as a result of the war...

 rebuilt itself, the European Broadcasting Union
European Broadcasting Union
The European Broadcasting Union is a confederation of 74 broadcasting organisations from 56 countries, and 49 associate broadcasters from a further 25...

 (EBU)—based in Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

—set up an ad-hoc committee to search for ways of bringing together the countries of the EBU around a "light entertainment programme". At a committee meeting held in Monaco
Monaco
Monaco , officially the Principality of Monaco , is a sovereign city state on the French Riviera. It is bordered on three sides by its neighbour, France, and its centre is about from Italy. Its area is with a population of 35,986 as of 2011 and is the most densely populated country in the...

 in January 1955, director general of Swiss television and committee chairman Marcel Bezençon
Marcel Bezençon
Marcel Bezençon was until 1970 the director of the European Broadcasting Union. In 1955 he conceived the idea of the Eurovision Song Contest based on the famous Sanremo Festival. The Eurovision Song Contest remains the world's most popular music event....

 conceived the idea of an international song contest where countries would participate in one television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 programme, to be transmitted simultaneously to all countries of the union. The competition was based upon the existing Sanremo Music Festival held in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, and was also seen as a technological experiment in live television
Live television
Live television refers to a television production broadcast in real-time, as events happen, in the present. From the early days of television until about 1958, live television was used heavily, except for filmed shows such as I Love Lucy and Gunsmoke. Video tape did not exist until 1957...

: as in those days, it was a very ambitious project to join many countries together in a wide-area international network. Satellite television
Satellite television
Satellite television is television programming delivered by the means of communications satellite and received by an outdoor antenna, usually a parabolic mirror generally referred to as a satellite dish, and as far as household usage is concerned, a satellite receiver either in the form of an...

 did not exist, and the so-called Eurovision Network
Eurovision Network
The Eurovision Network is part of the European Broadcasting Union, itself founded in 1950 as a system of international broadcasting cooperation...

 comprised a terrestrial microwave network. The concept, then known as "Eurovision Grand Prix", was approved by the EBU General Assembly in at a meeting held in Rome on 19 October 1955 and it was decided that the first contest would take place in spring 1956 in Lugano, Switzerland. The name "Eurovision" was first used in relation to the EBU's network by British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 journalist George Campey in the London Evening Standard
Evening Standard
The Evening Standard, now styled the London Evening Standard, is a free local daily newspaper, published Monday–Friday in tabloid format in London. It is the dominant regional evening paper for London and the surrounding area, with coverage of national and international news and City of London...

in 1951.

The first Contest was held in the town of Lugano
Lugano
Lugano is a city of inhabitants in the city proper and a total of over 145,000 people in the agglomeration/city region, in the south of Switzerland, in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, which borders Italy...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, on 24 May 1956. Seven countries participated—each submitting two songs, for a total of 14. This was the only Contest in which more than one song per country was performed: since 1957 all Contests have allowed one entry per country. The 1956 Contest
Eurovision Song Contest 1956
The Eurovision Song Contest 1956 was the first edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, held at the Teatro Kursaal in Lugano, Switzerland on 24 May 1956...

 was won by the host nation, Switzerland.

The programme was first known as the "Eurovision Grand Prix". This "Grand Prix" name was adopted by the Francophone
Francophone
The adjective francophone means French-speaking, typically as primary language, whether referring to individuals, groups, or places. Often, the word is used as a noun to describe a natively French-speaking person....

 countries, where the Contest became known as "Le Grand-Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne". The "Grand Prix" has since been dropped and replaced with "Concours" (contest) in these countries. The Eurovision Network is used to carry many news and sports programmes internationally, among other specialised events organised by the EBU. However, in the minds of the public, the name "Eurovision" is most closely associated with the Song Contest.

Format


The format of the Contest has changed over the years, though the basic tenets have always been thus: participant countries submit songs, which are performed live in a television programme transmitted across the Eurovision Network by the EBU simultaneously to all countries. A "country" as a participant is represented by one television broadcaster from that country: typically, but not always, that country's national public broadcasting organisation
Public broadcasting
Public broadcasting includes radio, television and other electronic media outlets whose primary mission is public service. Public broadcasters receive funding from diverse sources including license fees, individual contributions, public financing and commercial financing.Public broadcasting may be...

. The programme is hosted by one of the participant countries, and the transmission is sent from the auditorium
Auditorium
An auditorium is a room built to enable an audience to hear and watch performances at venues such as theatres. For movie theaters, the number of auditoriums is expressed as the number of screens.- Etymology :...

 in the host city. During this programme, after all the songs have been performed, the countries then proceed to cast votes for the other countries' songs: nations are not allowed to vote for their own song. At the end of the programme, the winner is declared as the song with the most points. The winner receives, simply, the prestige of having won—although it is usual for a trophy
Trophy
A trophy is a reward for a specific achievement, and serves as recognition or evidence of merit. Trophies are most often awarded for sporting events, from youth sports to professional level athletics...

 to be awarded to the winning songwriters, and the winning country is invited to host the event the following year.

The programme is invariably opened by one or more presenter
Presenter
A presenter, or host , is a person or organization responsible for running an event. A museum or university, for example, may be the presenter or host of an exhibit. Likewise, a master of ceremonies is a person that hosts or presents a show...

s, welcoming viewers to the show. Most host countries choose to capitalise on the opportunity afforded them by hosting a programme with such a wide-ranging international audience, and it is common to see the presentation interspersed with video footage of scenes from the host nation, as if advertising for tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

. Between the songs and the announcement of the voting, an interval act is performed. These acts can be any form of entertainment imaginable. Interval entertainment has included such acts as The Wombles
The Wombles (band)
The Wombles are a British novelty pop group, featuring musicians dressed as the characters from children's TV show The Wombles, which in turn was based on the children's book series by Elisabeth Beresford. Songwriter and record producer, Mike Batt, wrote the series' theme tune, and went on to...

  and the first international presentation of Riverdance
Riverdance
Riverdance is a theatrical show consisting of traditional Irish stepdancing, notable for its rapid leg movements while body and arms are kept largely stationary. It originated as an interval performance during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, a moment that is still considered a significant...

 .

As national broadcasters join and leave the EBU feed, the EBU/Eurovision logo is displayed. The accompanying theme music (used on other Eurovision broadcasts) is the prelude to Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Marc-Antoine Charpentier, , was a French composer of the Baroque era.Exceptionally prolific and versatile, he produced compositions of the highest quality in several genres...

's Te Deum
Te Deum (Charpentier)
Marc-Antoine Charpentier composed his grand polyphonic motet Te Deum in D major probably between 1688 and 1698, during his stay at the Jesuit Church of Saint-Louis in Paris, where he held the position of musical director...

.

The Eurovision Song Contest final is traditionally held on a spring Saturday evening, at 19:00 UTC
Coordinated Universal Time
Coordinated Universal Time is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is one of several closely related successors to Greenwich Mean Time. Computer servers, online services and other entities that rely on having a universally accepted time use UTC for that purpose...

 (20:00 BST
British Summer Time
Western European Summer Time is a summer daylight saving time scheme, 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time. It is used in the following places:* the Canary Islands* Portugal * Ireland...

, or 21:00 CEST
Central European Summer Time
Central European Summer Time is one of the names of the Daylight saving time offset using the UTC offset of UTC+02:00, 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time. It is used as a summer daylight saving time in most European countries. During the winter, Central European Time is used...

). Usually one Saturday in May is chosen, although the Contest has been held on a Thursday (in 1956) and as early as March.

Participation



Eligible participants include Active Members (as opposed to Associate Members) of the EBU. Active members are those whose states fall within the European Broadcasting Area
European Broadcasting Area
The European Broadcasting Area is defined by the International Telecommunication Union as such:The western boundary of "Region 1" is a line drawn west of Iceland down the centre of the Atlantic Ocean....

, or otherwise those who are members of the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

.

The European Broadcasting Area is defined by the International Telecommunication Union
International Telecommunication Union
The International Telecommunication Union is the specialized agency of the United Nations which is responsible for information and communication technologies...

:
The "European Broadcasting Area" is bounded on the west by the western boundary of Region 1 (see below), on the east by the meridian 40° East of Greenwich and on the south by the parallel 30° North so as to include the western part of the USSR, the northern part of Saudi Arabia and that part of those countries bordering the Mediterranean within these limits. In addition, Iraq, Jordan and that part of the territory of Turkey lying outside the above limits are included in the European Broadcasting Area.

The western boundary of Region 1
ITU region
The International Telecommunication Union , in its International Radio Regulations, divides the world into three ITU regions for the purposes of managing the global radio spectrum...

 is defined by a line running from the North Pole
North Pole
The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is, subject to the caveats explained below, defined as the point in the northern hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface...

 along meridian
Meridian (geography)
A meridian is an imaginary line on the Earth's surface from the North Pole to the South Pole that connects all locations along it with a given longitude. The position of a point along the meridian is given by its latitude. Each meridian is perpendicular to all circles of latitude...

 10° West of Greenwich
Greenwich
Greenwich is a district of south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich.Greenwich is best known for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time...

 to its intersection with parallel
Circle of latitude
A circle of latitude, on the Earth, is an imaginary east-west circle connecting all locations that share a given latitude...

 72° North; thence by great circle
Great circle
A great circle, also known as a Riemannian circle, of a sphere is the intersection of the sphere and a plane which passes through the center point of the sphere, as opposed to a general circle of a sphere where the plane is not required to pass through the center...

 arc to the intersection of meridian 50° West and parallel 40° North; thence by great circle arc to the intersection of meridian 20° West and parallel 10° South; thence along meridian 20° West to the South Pole
South Pole
The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole, is one of the two points where the Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface. It is the southernmost point on the surface of the Earth and lies on the opposite side of the Earth from the North Pole...

.

Active members include broadcasting organisations whose transmissions are made available to at least 98% of households in their own country which are equipped to receive such transmissions.

If an EBU Active Member wishes to participate, they must fulfil conditions as laid down by the rules of the Contest (of which a separate copy is drafted annually). As of , this includes the necessity to have broadcast the previous year's programme within their country, and paid the EBU a participation fee in advance of the deadline
Time limit
A time limit or deadline is a narrow field of time, or particular point in time, by which an objective or task must be accomplished.In project management, deadlines are most often associated with milestone goals....

 specified in the rules of the Contest for the year in which they wish to participate.

Eligibility to participate is not determined by geographic
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 inclusion within the continent of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, despite the "Euro" in "Eurovision" — nor does it have any relation to the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

. Several countries geographically outside the boundaries of Europe have competed: Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 and Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 in Western Asia, since 1973
Eurovision Song Contest 1973
The Eurovision Song Contest 1973 was the eighteenth Eurovision Song Contest and was held in Luxembourg. The language rule forcing countries to enter songs sung in any of their national languages was dropped, so performers from some countries sang in English....

, 1981
Eurovision Song Contest 1981
The Eurovision Song Contest 1981 was the 26th Eurovision Song Contest and was held on 4 April 1981 at the Simmonscourt Pavilion of the Royal Dublin Society in Dublin. The presenter was Doireann Ní Bhriain...

, 2006
Eurovision Song Contest 2006
The Eurovision Song Contest 2006 was the 51st Eurovision Song Contest, held at the Olympic Indoor Hall in Athens, Greece on 18 May and 20 May 2006 . The hosting national broadcaster of the contest was Ellinikí Radiofonía Tileórasi . The Finnish band Lordi won the contest with the song "Hard Rock...

, 2007
Eurovision Song Contest 2007
The Eurovision Song Contest 2007 was the 52nd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. It was won by first-time appearance as an independent country Serbia and was held at the Hartwall Areena in Helsinki, Finland from 10 May to 12 May. The host broadcaster was YLE.Finland earned the right to host...

 and 2008
Eurovision Song Contest 2008
The Eurovision Song Contest 2008 was the 53rd edition of the Contest. It was hosted in Belgrade, Serbia after Marija Šerifović won the 2007 Contest in Helsinki, Finland. This year was the first contest to have two semi-finals which were held on 20 and 22 May, and the final held on 24 May 2008...

 respectively; and Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, in North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, in the 1980 competition
Eurovision Song Contest 1980
The Eurovision Song Contest 1980 was the 25th Eurovision Song Contest and was held on 19 April 1980 in The Hague. The presenter was Marlous Fluitsma, although each song was introduced by a presenter from the nation represented...

 alone. In addition, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, which are both transcontinental countries with most of their territory outside of Europe, have competed respectively since 1975
Eurovision Song Contest 1975
The Eurovision Song Contest 1975 was the 20th edition of the contest hosted by SR and held in Stockholm, Sweden. The arena for the event was the newly built Stockholm International Fairs in Älvsjö in southern Stockholm. ABBA's victory in Brighton the previous year gave Sweden the right to host the...

 and 1994
Eurovision Song Contest 1994
The Eurovision Song Contest 1994 was the 39th Eurovision Song Contest and was held on 30 April 1994 in the Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. The presenters were Cynthia Ní Mhurchú and Gerry Ryan. The pair hosted the evening in French, English and Irish...

.

Fifty-one countries have participated at least once. These are listed here alongside the year in which they made their début:
Year Country making its début entry
, , a, , , ,
, ,
, , b
, ,
, , , , , ,
, , ,
,
, , ,
,
a) Before German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

 in 1990 occasionally presented as West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

, representing the Federal Republic of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. East Germany (the German Democratic Republic) did not compete.
b) The entries presented as being from "Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

" represented the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

, except for the 1992 entry, which represented the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This nation dissolved in 1991/1992 into five independent states: Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

, Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

 and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia reconstituted itself as Serbia and Montenegro
Serbia and Montenegro
Serbia and Montenegro was a country in southeastern Europe, formed from two former republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia : Serbia and Montenegro. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, it was established in 1992 as a federation called the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia...

 in 2003—entered the Contest in 2004—and finally dissolved in 2006, making two separate states: Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

 and Montenegro
Montenegro
Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

; both of which débuted in the Contest in 2007.

Selection procedures


Each country must submit one song to represent them in any given year they participate. The only exception to this was when each country submitted two songs in the inaugural Contest. There is a rule which forbids any song being entered which has been previously commercially released or broadcast in public before a certain date relative to the Contest in question.

Countries may select their songs by any means, whether by an internal decision of the participating broadcaster or a public contest that allows the country's public to televote
Televoting
Televoting, telephone voting or phone voting is a method of decision making and opinion polling conducted by telephone. Televoting can also extend to voting by SMS text message via a mobile cell phone.- Broadcast contest televoting :...

 between several songs. The EBU encourages broadcasters to use the latter, as this generates more publicity for the contest. These public selections are known as national finals.

Some countries' national finals are as big as—if not bigger than—the international Eurovision Song Contest itself, involving many songs being submitted to national semi-finals. The Swedish national final, Melodifestivalen
Melodifestivalen
Melodifestivalen is an annual music competition organised by Swedish public broadcasters Sveriges Television and Sveriges Radio . It determines the country's representative for the Eurovision Song Contest, and has been staged almost every year since 1959...

(literally, "The Melody Festival") includes 32 songs being performed over four semi-finals, played to huge audiences in arenas around the country, before the final show in Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

. This has become the most watched programme of the year in Sweden. In Spain, the reality show Operación Triunfo
Operación Triunfo
Operación Triunfo is a reality-show talent contest which first aired on Spain's TVE network in 2001. A kind of cross between Pop Idol, Voces en Función, Star Search, and Big Brother, the show aimed to find the country's next solo singing sensation, putting a selection of hopefuls through their...

started in 2002; the winners of the first three seasons proceeded to represent the country at Eurovision.

Regardless of the method used to select the entry, the song's details must be finalised and submitted to the EBU before a deadline some weeks before the international Contest.

Since 1971, each participating country has been required to provide a preview video
Eurovision Song Contest Previews
The Eurovision Song Contest Previews are annually broadcast TV shows showcasing the entries into the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest. They were inaugurated in 1971 for the contest in Dublin, Ireland, and have been provided by the European Broadcasting Union to all participating countries ever...

 of their entry, ostensibly to be broadcast in all the nations taking part. Broadcast of the previews was compulsory until the mid 1990s, but is no longer so, providing each country provides access to the videos online.

Hosting



Most of the expense of the contest is covered by commercial sponsors and contributions from the other participating nations. The contest is considered to be a unique opportunity for promoting the host country as a tourist destination. In the summer of 2005, Ukraine abolished its normal visa requirement for visitors from the EU to coincide with its hosting of the event.


Preparations for the event start a matter of weeks after the host wins in the previous year, and confirms to the EBU that they intend to—and have the capacity to—host the event. A host city is chosen—usually the capital—and a suitable concert venue. The two largest concert venues were Parken
Parken Stadium
Parken Stadium is a football stadium in the Indre Østerbro district of Copenhagen, Denmark, built from 1990–1992. It currently has a capacity of 38,065 for football games, and is the home ground of F.C. Københaven and the Danish national football team...

 in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

 (which held approximately 38,000 people when Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 hosted in 2001) and the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...

 (which held approximately 36,500 people when Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 hosted in 2011). The smallest town to have been hosts was Millstreet
Millstreet
Millstreet is a town in north County Cork, Ireland with a population of approximately 1,500. It is located at the foot of Clara Mountain. The town's Catholic church is dedicated to St. Patrick. Since October 1985, the town has been twinned with Pommerit-le-Vicomte in Brittany, France...

 in County Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...

, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, in 1993. The village had a population of 1,500—although the Green Glens Arena
Green Glens Arena
The Green Glens Arena is a public entertainment location in Millstreet, in County Cork, Ireland. There is a 0.2 km² outdoor estate for equestrian sporting events and an indoor arena measuring 80 metres by 40 metres. The indoor arena has a capacity of 8,000 and is perhaps most well known for hosting...

 venue could hold up to 8,000 people.

The hotel and press facilities in the vicinity are always a consideration when choosing a host city and venue. In Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

 2005, hotel rooms were scarce as the Contest organisers asked the Ukrainian government
Government of Ukraine
Government of Ukraine is often associated with the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. However it should be considered that Ukraine is a country under a semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government...

 to put a block on bookings they did not control themselves through official delegation allocations or tour packages: this led to many people's hotel bookings being cancelled.

Eurovision Week


The term "Eurovision Week" is used to refer to the week during which the Contest takes place. As it is a live show, the Eurovision Song Contest requires the performers to have perfected their acts in rehearsal
Rehearsal
For other uses, see Rehearsal or Dress rehearsal A rehearsal is a preparatory event in music and theatre that is performed before the official public performance, as a form of practice, and to ensure that all details of the performance are adequately prepared and coordinated for professional...

s in order for the big night to run smoothly. In addition to rehearsals in their home countries, every participant is given the opportunity to rehearse on the stage in the Eurovision auditorium. These rehearsals are held during the course of several days before the Saturday show, and consequently the delegations arrive in the host city many days before the event. This means, in turn, journalists and fans are also present during the preceding days, and the events of Eurovision last a lot longer than a few hours of television. A number of officially accredited hotels are selected for the delegations to stay in, and shuttle-bus services are used to transport the performers and accompanying people to and from the Contest venue.

Each participating broadcaster nominates a Head of Delegation, whose job it is to coordinate the movements of the delegate members, and who acts as that country's representative to the EBU in the host city. Members of the delegations include performers, lyricists, composers, official press officers and—in the years where songs were performed with a live orchestra—a conductor. Also present if desired is a commentator: each broadcaster may supply their own commentary for their TV and/or radio feed, to be broadcast in each country. The commentators are given dedicated commentary booths situated around the back of the arena behind the audience.

Rehearsals and press conferences



Traditionally, delegations would arrive on the Sunday before the Contest, in order to be present for rehearsals starting on the Monday morning. However, with the introduction of the semi-final—and therefore the resulting increase in the number of countries taking part—since 2004 the first rehearsals have commenced during the week before Eurovision Week. The countries taking part in the semi-final currently rehearse over four days from the first Thursday to the Sunday, with two rehearsal periods allowed for each country. The countries which have already directly qualified for the grand final rehearse on the Monday and Tuesday of Eurovision Week.


After each country has rehearsed, the delegation meets with the show's artistic director in the video viewing room. Here, they watch the footage of the rehearsal just performed, discussing camera angles, lighting and choreography, in order to try to achieve maximum æsthetic effect on television. At this point the Head of Delegation may make known any special requirements needed for the performance, and request them from the host broadcaster. Following this meeting, the delegation hold a press conference where members of the accredited press may pose them questions. The rehearsals and press conferences are held in parallel; so one country holds its press conference, while the next one is in the auditorium rehearsing. A printed summary of the questions and answers which emerge from the press conferences is produced by the host press office, and distributed to journalists' pigeon-holes.

Before each of the semi-finals, one or more full dress rehearsals are held. Since tickets to the live shows are often scarce, tickets are also sold in order that the public may attend these dress rehearsals. Similarly, two or more full dress rehearsals are held after all semi-finals are finished, before the live transmission of the grand final on Saturday evening.

Parties and Euroclub


On the Monday evening of Eurovision Week, a Mayor's Reception is traditionally held, where the city administration hosts a celebration that Eurovision has come to their city. This is usually held in a grand municipally owned location in the city centre. All delegations are invited, and the party is usually accompanied by live music, complimentary food and drink and—in recent years—fireworks
Fireworks
Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

.

After the semi-final and grand final there are after-show parties, held either in a facility in the venue complex or in another suitable location within the city.

A Euroclub is held every night of the week; a Eurovision-themed nightclub
Nightclub
A nightclub is an entertainment venue which usually operates late into the night...

, to which all accredited personnel are invited.

During the week many delegations have traditionally hosted their own parties in addition to the officially sponsored ones. However, in the new millennium the trend has been for the national delegations to centralise their activity and hold their celebrations in the Euroclub.

Voting


The voting systems used in the Contest have changed throughout the years. The modern system has been in place since 1975, and is a positional voting system
Positional voting system
A positional voting system is a ranked voting method in which the options receive points based on their position on each ballot, and the option with the most points wins....

. Countries award a set of points from 1 to 8, then 10 and finally 12 to other songs in the competition — with the favourite song being awarded 12 points.

Historically, a country's set of votes was decided by an internal jury, but in 1997 five countries (Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom) experimented with televoting
Televoting
Televoting, telephone voting or phone voting is a method of decision making and opinion polling conducted by telephone. Televoting can also extend to voting by SMS text message via a mobile cell phone.- Broadcast contest televoting :...

, giving members of the public in those countries the opportunity to vote en-masse for their favourite songs. The experiment was a success, and from 1998 onwards all countries were encouraged to use televoting wherever possible. Back-up juries are still utilised by each country, in the event of a televoting failure. Nowadays members of the public may also vote by SMS
Text messaging
Text messaging, or texting, refers to the exchange of brief written text messages between fixed-line phone or mobile phone and fixed or portable devices over a network...

, in addition to televoting.

The voting is presided over by the EBU scrutineer
Scrutineer
In general, a scrutineer is a person who observes any process which requires rigorous oversight, either to prevent the occurrence of corruption or genuine mistakes. It is most commonly known as part of voting in an election, where the scrutineer observes the counting of ballot papers, in order to...

, who is responsible for ensuring that all points are allocated correctly and in turn.
According to one study of Eurovision voting patterns, certain countries tend to form "clusters" or "cliques" by frequently voting in the same way. Yet another study concludes that as of 2006 voting bloc
Voting bloc
A voting bloc is a group of voters that are so motivated by a specific concern or group of concerns that it helps determine how they vote in elections. The divisions between voting blocs are known as cleavage...

s has, on at least two occasions, crucially affected the outcome of the contest.

Presentation of votes



After the interval act is over, when all the points have been calculated, the presenter(s) of the show call upon each voting country in turn to invite them to announce the results of their vote. Prior to 1994 the announcements were made over telephone lines; with the audio being piped into the auditorium for the audience to hear, and over the television transmission. With the advent of more reliable satellite networks, from 1994 onwards voting spokespeople have appeared on camera from their respective countries to read out the votes. Often the opportunity is taken by each country to show their spokesperson standing in front of a backdrop which includes a famous place in that country.

Votes are read out in ascending order, culminating with the maximum 12 points. The scores are repeated by the Contest's presenters in English and French, which has given rise to the famous "douze points" exclamation when the host repeats the top score in French. Traditionally votes are read in English by all countries except for France and Belgium (in odd years).

From 1957 to 1962, the participating countries were called in reverse order of the presentation of their songs, and from 1963 to 2003, each country was called in the same order in which their song had been presented. Since 2004, the order of the countries' announcements of votes has changed since the inception of the semi-final, and the countries that did not make it to the final each year could also vote. In 2004, the countries were called in alphabetical order (according to their ISO codes
ISO 3166-1 alpha-2
ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 codes are two-letter country codes defined in ISO 3166-1, part of the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization , to represent countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest...

). In 2005, the votes from the non-qualifying semi-finalists were announced first, in their running order on the Thursday night; then the finalists gave their votes in their own order of performance. Between 2006 and 2010, a separate draw was held to determine the order in which countries would present their votes. In 2011, the voting order was determined by the results of a jury the day before the final so as to create as much suspense as possible when the votes were revealed.

From 1971 to 1973, each country sent two jurors, who were actually present at the Contest venue (though the juries in 1972 were locked away in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle) and announced their votes as the camera was trained on them. In 1973 one of the Swiss jurors made a great show of presenting his votes with flamboyant gestures. This system was retired for the next year.

In 1956 no public votes were presented: a closed jury simply announced that Switzerland had won. From 1957 to 1987, the points were displayed on a physical scoreboard
Scoreboard
A scoreboard is a large board for publicly displaying the score in a game or match. Most levels of sport from high school and above use at least one scoreboard for keeping score, measuring time, and displaying statistics. Scoreboards in the past used a mechanical clock and numeral cards to...

 to the side of the stage. As digital graphic technology progressed, the physical scoreboards were superseded in 1988 by an electronic representation
Computer graphics
Computer graphics are graphics created using computers and, more generally, the representation and manipulation of image data by a computer with help from specialized software and hardware....

 which could be displayed on the TV screen at the will of the programme's director
Television director
A television director directs the activities involved in making a television program and is part of a television crew.-Duties:The duties of a television director vary depending on whether the production is live or recorded to video tape or video server .In both types of productions, the...

.

In 2006, the EBU decided to conserve time during the broadcast—much of which had been taken up with the announcement of every single point—because there was an ever-increasing number of countries voting. From then onwards, the points from 1–7 were flashed up onto the screen automatically, and the announcers only read out the 8, 10 and 12 points individually.

Ties for first place


In 1969, a tie-break system had not yet been conceived, and four countries all tied for first place based on their total numbers of points: France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. Since there was no predetermined set of rules to decide the winner, all four countries were declared as winners. This caused much discontent among most of the non-winning countries, and mass-walkouts were threatened. Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 did not participate in the 1970 Contest as a protest against the results of the previous year. This prompted the EBU to introduce a tie-break rule.

In the event of a tie for first place at the end of the evening, a count is made of the total number of countries who awarded any points at all to each of the tied countries; and the one who received points from the most countries is declared the winner. If the numbers are still tied, it is counted how many sets of maximum marks (12 points) each country received. If there is still a tie, the numbers of 10-point scores awarded are compared—and then the numbers of 8-points, all the way down the list. In the extremely unlikely event of there then still being a tie for first place, the song performed earliest in the running order is declared the winner, unless the host country performed first in the running order. The same tie-break rule now applies to ties for all places.

As of , the only time since 1969 when two or more countries have tied for first place on total points alone was in 1991, when France and Sweden both totalled 146 points. In 1991 the tie-break rules did not include counting the numbers of countries awarding any points at all to these countries, but began with tallying up the numbers of 12 points awarded. Both France and Sweden had received four sets of 12 points. However, because Sweden had received more sets of 10 points, they were declared the winners. Had the current rule been in play, France would have won instead.

Rules


There are a number of rules which must be observed by the participating nations. The rules are numerous and unabridged, and a separate draft is produced each year, which explicitly specifies the dates by which certain things must be done; for example the deadline by which all the participating broadcasters must submit the final recorded version of their song to the EBU. Many rules pertain to such matters as sponsorship agreements and rights of broadcasters to re-transmit the show within a certain time. The most notable rules which actually affect the format and presentation of the Contest have changed somewhat over the years, and are highlighted here.

Hosting


In 1958 it was decided that from then on, the winning country (France, at the time) would host the Contest the next year. The winner of the 1957 Contest was the Netherlands, and Dutch television accepted the responsibility of hosting in 1958. In all but five of the years since this rule has been in place, the winning country has hosted the show the following year. The exceptions are:
—hosted by the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 when the Netherlands declined due to expense. The UK was chosen to host because it had come second in 1959.—hosted by the BBC in London when France declined due to expense. Although the UK had only come fourth in 1962, Monaco and Luxembourg (who came second and third) had also declined.—hosted by the BBC in Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

 when Monaco was unable to provide a suitable venue: Monegasque television
Télé Monte Carlo
Télé Monte Carlo or TMC Monte Carlo, traditionally known as TMC is a Monégasque general entertainment television channel.-History:The oldest private channel in Europe, TMC dates back to 1954, inaugurated by Rainier III, Prince of Monaco...

 invited the BBC to take over due to its previous experience.—hosted by the BBC in Brighton
Brighton
Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

 when Luxembourg declined due to expense. The BBC was becoming known as the host by default, if the winning country declined.—hosted by NOS
Nederlandse Omroep Stichting
The Nederlandse Omroep Stichting , English: Netherlands Broadcasting Foundation, is one of the broadcasters in the Netherlands Public Broadcasting system...

 in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

 when the Israel Broadcasting Authority
Israel Broadcasting Authority
Israel Broadcasting Authority is Israel's state broadcasting network.It grew out of the radio station Kol Yisrael, which made its first broadcast as an independent station on . The name of the organisation operating Kol Yisrael was changed to Israel Broadcasting Service in 1951...

 declined due to expense, and the fact that the date chosen for the Contest (19 April) was Israel's Remembrance Day
Yom Hazikaron
Yom Hazikaron is Israel's official Memorial Day. In 2011, Israel honored the memory of soldiers killed in the line of duty and the civilian casualties too.-Observance:...

 that year. The Dutch offered to host the Contest after several other broadcasters (including the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

) were unwilling to do so.

The declinations due to expense were due to those broadcasters' already having hosted the Contest during the past couple of years. Since 1981, all Contests have been held in the country which won the previous year.

Live music


All vocals must be sung live: no voices are permitted on backing tracks. In 1999, the Croatian song featured sounds on their backing track which sounded suspiciously like human voices. The Croatian delegation stated that there were no human voices, but only digitally synthesised sounds which replicated vocals. The EBU nevertheless decided that they had broken the spirit of the rules, and docked them 33% of their points total that year as used for calculating their five-year points average for future qualification.

From 1956 until 1998, it was necessary for the host country to provide a live orchestra
Orchestra
An orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ορχήστρα, the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus...

 for the use of the participants. Prior to 1973, all music was required to be played by the host orchestra. From 1973 onwards, pre-recorded backing tracks were permitted—although the host country was still obliged to provide a live orchestra in order to give participants a choice. If a backing track was used, then all the instruments heard on the track were required to be present on the stage. In 1997 this requirement was dropped.

In 1999 the rules were amended to abolish the requirement by the host broadcaster to provide a live orchestra, leaving it as an optional contribution. The host that year, Israel's IBA, decided not to use an orchestra in order to save on expenses, and 1999 became the first year in which all of the songs were played as pre-recorded backing tracks (in conjunction with live vocals). The orchestra has not since made an appearance at the Contest; the last time being in 1998 when the BBC hosted the show in Birmingham.

Language


The rule requiring countries to sing in their own national language has been changed several times over the years. From 1956 until 1965, there was no rule restricting the languages in which the songs could be sung. In 1966 a rule was imposed stating that the songs must be performed in one of the official languages of the country participating, after Sweden presented its 1965 entry in English.

The language restriction continued until 1973, when it was lifted and performers were again allowed to sing in any language they wished. Several winners in the mid-1970s took advantage of the newly found allowance, with performers from non-English-speaking countries singing in English, including ABBA
ABBA
ABBA was a Swedish pop group formed in Stockholm in 1970 which consisted of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Agnetha Fältskog...

 in 1974.

In 1977, the EBU decided to revert to the national language restriction. Special dispensation was given to Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 as their national selections had already taken place - both countries' entries were in English.

In 1999 the rule was changed to allow the choice of language once more. With this linguistic allowance the Belgian entry in 2003, "Sanomi
Sanomi
"Sanomi" was the Belgian entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2003, which ranked second in the Contest, performed in a constructed language by the six-piece band Urban Trad....

", was sung in a constructed language
Constructed language
A planned or constructed language—known colloquially as a conlang—is a language whose phonology, grammar, and/or vocabulary has been consciously devised by an individual or group, instead of having evolved naturally...

. In 2006 the Dutch entry, "Amambanda
Amambanda
"Amambanda" was the Dutch entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, performed predominantly in an imaginary language but with some words in English by Treble...

", was sung partly in English and partly in an artificial language. In 2008 the Belgian entry, "O Julissi
O Julissi
"O Julissi" also known as "O Julissi Na Jalini" is a song with lyrics in a constructed language by the Belgian six-piece band Ishtar. The swing influenced song represented Belgium at the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 first semi-final in Belgrade, but failed to make it to the grand final.This was the...

", was sung in an artificial language. In 2011 the Norwegian entry, "Haba Haba
Haba Haba
"Haba Haba" is a song performed by Norwegian-Kenyan singer-songwriter Stella Mwangi, from her second studio album Kinanda . It was Norway's entry at the Eurovision Song Contest 2011...

", which was sung in English and Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

, was the first song to be sung in an African language.

Broadcasting


Each participating broadcaster is required to broadcast the show in its entirety: including all songs, recap, voting and reprise, skipping only the interval act for advertising breaks if they wish. From 1999 onwards, broadcasters who wished to do so were given the opportunity to take more advertising breaks as short, non-essential hiatuses were introduced into the programme. The Dutch state broadcaster pulled their broadcast of the 2000 final to provide emergency news coverage of a major incident, the Enschede fireworks disaster
Enschede fireworks disaster
The Enschede fireworks disaster was a catastrophic fireworks explosion occurring at the SE Fireworks depot on 13 May 2000, in the eastern Dutch city of Enschede....

. This was technically a violation of the rule, but was done out of necessity.

Political recognition issues


In 1978, during the performance of the Israeli entry, the Jordanian broadcaster JRTV
JRTV
Jordan Radio and Television is the state broadcaster of Jordan. It was formed in 1985 from the merger of Jordan Radio and Jordan Television....

 suspended the broadcast and showed pictures of flowers. When it became apparent during the later stages of the voting sequence that Israel was going to win the Contest, JRTV abruptly ended the transmission. Afterwards, the Jordanian news media
News media
The news media are those elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public.These include print media , broadcast news , and more recently the Internet .-Etymology:A medium is a carrier of something...

 refused to acknowledge the fact that Israel had won and announced that the winner was Belgium (which had actually come in 2nd place). In 1981 JRTV did not broadcast the voting because the name of Israel appeared on the scoreboard.

In 2005, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 intended to participate in the Contest. However, Lebanese law does not allow recognition of Israel, and consequently Lebanese television did not intend to transmit the Israeli entry. The EBU informed them that such an act would breach the rules of the Contest, and Lebanon was subsequently forced to withdraw from the competition. Their late withdrawal incurred a fine, since they had already confirmed their participation and the deadline had passed.

Other

  • In the first Contest in 1956, there was a recommended time limit of 3½ minutes per song. In 1957, despite protests, the Italian song was 5:09 minutes in duration. This led to a stricter time limit of 3 minutes precisely.
  • There is no restriction imposed by the EBU on the nationality of the performers or songwriters. Individual broadcasters are, however, permitted to impose their own restrictions at their discretion.
  • From 1957 to 1970 (in 1956 there was no restriction at all), only soloists and duos were allowed on stage. From 1963, a chorus of up to three people was permitted. Since 1971, a maximum of six performers have been permitted on the stage.
  • The performance and/or lyrics of a song "must not bring the Contest into disrepute".
  • From 1990 onwards, all people on stage must be at least 16 years of age.

Expansion of the Contest



The number of countries participating each year has steadily grown over the course of the years, from seven participants in 1956 to over 20 in the late 1980s. In 1993 there were 25 countries participating in the competition, including, for the first time that year, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia, entering independently due to the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

Because the Contest is a live television programme, a reasonable time limit must be imposed on the duration of the show. In recent years the nominal limit has been three hours, with the broadcast occasionally overrunning.

Pre-selections and relegation


Since 1993, there have been more countries wishing to enter the Contest than there is time to reasonably include all their entries in a single TV show. Several relegation or qualification systems have, therefore, been tried in order to limit the number of countries participating in the competition in any given year. The 1993 Contest introduced two new features: firstly, a pre-selection competition was held in Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and its largest city. It is the centre of the City Municipality of Ljubljana. It is located in the centre of the country in the Ljubljana Basin, and is a mid-sized city of some 270,000 inhabitants...

 in which seven new countries
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 fought for three places in the international competition. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia took part in Kvalifikacija za Millstreet
Kvalifikacija za Millstreet
Kvalifikacija za Millstreet was the preselection for the Eurovision Song Contest 1993. Seven countries took part, none of which had participated in the Eurovision Song Contest before, although songs from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia had represented Yugoslavia in past contests...

; and the three former Yugoslav republics, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia, qualified for a place in the international final. Also to be introduced that year was relegation. The lowest-placed countries in the 1993 score table were forced to skip the next year, in order to allow the countries which failed the 1993 pre-selection into the 1994 Contest. The 1994 Contest included also—for the first time—Lithuania, Poland and Russia.

Relegation continued through 1994 and 1995; but in 1996 a different pre-selection system was used, in which nearly all the countries participated. Audio tapes of all the songs were sent to juries in each of the countries some weeks before the television show. These juries selected the songs which would then proceed to be included in the international broadcast. Norway, as the host country in 1996 (having won the 1995 Contest), automatically qualified and was therefore excluded from the necessity of going through the pre-selection.

One country which failed to qualify in the 1996 pre-selection was Germany. As one of the largest financial contributors to the EBU, their non-participation in the Contest brought about a funding issue, which the EBU would have to consider.

Big Four/Five


Since 2000, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 have automatically qualified for the Eurovision final, regardless of their positions on the scoreboard in previous Contests. They earned this special status by being the four biggest financial contributors to the EBU (without which the production of the Eurovision Song Contest would not be possible). Due to their untouchable status, these countries became known as the "Big Four". On 31 December 2010, it was announced on the official participation list published by the EBU that Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 would automatically qualify into the final, thus joining the other qualifiers to become the "Big Five". Germany became the first "Big Four" country to win the Contest since the rule was made in 2000, when Lena Meyer-Landrut
Lena Meyer-Landrut
Lena Meyer-Landrut , known professionally as Lena, is a German singer-songwriter. She represented Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 in Oslo, Norway, and won the contest with the song "Satellite"...

 won the 2010 Contest
Eurovision Song Contest 2010
The Eurovision Song Contest 2010 was the 55th annual Eurovision Song Contest, broadcast from the Telenor Arena in Bærum, Greater Oslo, Norway. It was the third time Norway had hosted the contest, having previously done so in 1986 and 1996. The 2010 winner was Germany with Lena singing "Satellite",...

. Since the introduction of semi finals, the host also qualifies, meaning that in 2012
Eurovision Song Contest 2012
The Eurovision Song Contest 2012 will be the 57th annual Eurovision Song Contest. It will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, following Azerbaijan's win in the 2011 Contest with Ell & Nikki's song "Running Scared". The two semi-finals will be held on 22 May and 24 May 2012, with the final on 26 May 2012,...

 six countries will automatically qualify.

Qualification


From 1997 to 2003, countries qualified for each Contest based on the average of their points totals for their entries over the previous five years. However, there was much discontent voiced over this system because a country could be punished by not being allowed to enter merely because of poor previous results, which did not take into account how good a fresh attempt might be. This led the EBU to create what was hoped would be a more permanent solution to the problem, which was to have two shows every year: a qualification round, and the grand final. In these two shows there would be enough broadcast time to include all the countries which wished to participate, every year. The qualification round became known as the Eurovision Semi-Final. In 2008 due to the number of nations entering, it changed very slightly as two separate semi finals were created, once going from the first semi a nation would enter straight into the final as would those progressing from the second semi.

Semi-finals


A qualification round, known as the semi-final, was introduced for the 2004 Contest
Eurovision Song Contest 2004
The Eurovision Song Contest 2004, was the 49th Contest and it was held in the Abdi İpekçi Arena in Istanbul, Turkey. This was the first occasion in which the contest was held in Turkey after they had won the competition in 2003 with Sertab Erener singing "Everyway That I Can"...

. This semi-final was held on the Wednesday during Eurovision Week, and was a programme similar in format to the grand final, whose time slot remained 19:00 UTC on the Saturday. The highest-placed songs from the semi-final would qualify for the grand final, while the lower-placed songs were out of the competition for that year. From 2005–2007, the semi-final programme was held on the Thursday of Eurovision Week.

The ten most highly placed non-Big Four countries in the grand final were guaranteed a place in the following year's grand final, without the need to participate in next year's semi. If, for example, Germany came in the top ten, the eleventh-placed non-Big-Four country would automatically qualify for the next year's grand final. The remaining countries—which had not automatically qualified for the grand final—had to enter the semi.

At the 50th annual meeting of the EBU reference group in September 2007, it was decided that from the 2008 Contest
Eurovision Song Contest 2008
The Eurovision Song Contest 2008 was the 53rd edition of the Contest. It was hosted in Belgrade, Serbia after Marija Šerifović won the 2007 Contest in Helsinki, Finland. This year was the first contest to have two semi-finals which were held on 20 and 22 May, and the final held on 24 May 2008...

 onwards two semi-finals would be held. From 2008 onwards, the scoreboard position of any previous years has not been relevant, and—save for the automatic qualifiers—all participating countries have had to participate in the semi-finals, regardless of their previous year's scoreboard position. The only countries which automatically qualify for the grand final are the host country, and the Big Five: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, who continue to enjoy their protected status.

In each of the semi-finals the voting is conducted among those countries which participate in that semi-final in question. With regards to the automatic grand final qualifiers, which do not participate in the semi-finals, a draw is conducted to determine in which semi-final each of them will be allowed to vote. In contrast, every participating country in a particular year may vote in the Saturday grand final — whether their song qualified from the semi or not.

After the votes have been cast in each semi-final, the countries which received the most votes—and will therefore proceed to the grand final on Saturday—are announced by name by the presenters. Full voting results are withheld until after the grand final, whereupon they are published on the EBU's website.

Winners


Winning the Eurovision Song Contest provides a unique opportunity for the winning artist(s) to capitalise on the surrounding publicity to further his, her or their career(s).

Artists


The most notable winning Eurovision artist whose career was directly launched into the spotlight following their win was ABBA
ABBA
ABBA was a Swedish pop group formed in Stockholm in 1970 which consisted of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Agnetha Fältskog...

, who won the Contest for Sweden in 1974 with their song "Waterloo". ABBA went on to become one of the most successful bands of all time.

Another notable winner who subsequently achieved international fame and success was French Canadian
French Canadian
French Canadian or Francophone Canadian, , generally refers to the descendents of French colonists who arrived in New France in the 17th and 18th centuries...

 singer, Celine Dion
Celine Dion
Céline Marie Claudette Dion, , , is a Canadian singer. Born to a large family from Charlemagne, Quebec, Dion emerged as a teen star in the French-speaking world after her manager and future husband René Angélil mortgaged his home to finance her first record...

, who won the Contest for Switzerland in 1988 with the song "Ne partez pas sans moi
Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi
"Ne partez pas sans moi" is the Swiss winning entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1988, performed by Céline Dion. It was released as a single in Europe on May 6, 1988...

", which subsequently helped launch her international career.

Other artists who have achieved varying degrees of success after winning the Contest include

France Gall
France Gall
France Gall is a popular French yé-yé singer.Gall was married to, and had a successful singing career in partnership with, French singer-songwriter Michel Berger....

 ("Poupée de cire, poupée de son
Poupée de cire, poupée de son
"Poupée de cire, poupée de son" was the winning entry in the Eurovision Song Contest of 1965. It was performed in French by French singer France Gall, representing Luxembourg....

", Luxembourg 1965
Eurovision Song Contest 1965
The Eurovision Song Contest 1965 was the 10th in the series. Luxembourg's win was their second. Belgium, Finland, Germany, and Spain each scored "null points" for the second time. The 1965 contest marked the debut of Ireland, a country which later went on to dominate the competition. This was also...

), Dana
Dana Rosemary Scallon
Dana Rosemary Scallon , known in her singing career simply as Dana, is an Irish singer and former Member of the European Parliament ....

 ("All Kinds of Everything
All Kinds Of Everything
"All Kinds of Everything" is a song written by Derry Lindsay and Jackie Smith which as performed by Dana won the Eurovision Song Contest 1970. "All Kinds of Everything" represented a return to the ballad form from the more energetic performances which had dominated Eurovision the previous years...

", Ireland 1970
Eurovision Song Contest 1970
The Eurovision Song Contest 1970 was the 15th Eurovision Song Contest, held on 21 March 1970 at the RAI Congrescentrum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Amsterdam contest is regarded as one of the most significant in Eurovision history for a number of reasons....

),
Vicky Leandros
Vicky Leandros
Vicky Leandros is a Greek singer with a long international career. She is the daughter of singer, musician and composer Leandros Papathanasiou...

 ("Après toi
Après Toi
"Après toi" was the winning song of the Eurovision Song Contest 1972 performed in French by Greek singer Vicky Leandros, representing Luxembourg. The song was co-written by Leandros' father Leandros Papathanasiou, also known as Leo Leandros, under his pseudonym Mario Panas. This was Vicky...

", Luxembourg 1972
Eurovision Song Contest 1972
The Eurovision Song Contest 1972 was the 17th edition series. Monaco was unable to host this year's Eurovision as they were unable to provide the resources. They approached French TV, who agreed to produce the contest, but only if the contest was staged in France and not the planned Monte Carlo...

),
Brotherhood of Man
Brotherhood of Man
Brotherhood of Man are a British pop group who achieved success in the 1970s, most notably by winning the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest with "Save Your Kisses for Me"....

 ("Save Your Kisses for Me
Save Your Kisses For Me
"Save Your Kisses for Me" was the winning song of the Eurovision Song Contest 1976, performed for the United Kingdom by Brotherhood of Man in The Hague, Netherlands. The lyrics and music were written by Tony Hiller, Lee Sheriden, and Martin Lee, the latter two being members of the band...

", United Kingdom 1976
Eurovision Song Contest 1976
The Eurovision Song Contest 1976, the 21st in the series, was held in The Hague, Netherlands, on 3 April 1976. With Corry Brokken as the presenter – the first time a previous winner of the contest had played hostess – the contest was won by Brotherhood of Man, representing the United...

), Marie Myriam
Marie Myriam
Marie Myriam is a French singer of Portuguese origins...

 ("L'oiseau et l'enfant
L'Oiseau Et L'Enfant
"L'oiseau et l'enfant" was the winning song in the Eurovision Song Contest 1977 performed in French by the Portuguese singer Marie Myriam, who represented France...

", France 1977
Eurovision Song Contest 1977
The Eurovision Song Contest 1977 was the 22nd edition series, and was held on 7 May 1977 in London. With Angela Rippon as the presenter, the contest was won by Marie Myriam who represented France, with her song "L'oiseau et l'enfant" . This was France's fifth victory, a record, which was equalled...

),
Johnny Logan
Johnny Logan (singer)
Johnny Logan , is an Australian-born Irish singer and composer. He is regarded as "Mister Eurovision", having participated in the Eurovision Song Contest many times since the 1970s, and, since 1992, has been the most successful artist in Eurovision history.Logan has won the international contest on...

 (who won twice for Ireland; with "What's Another Year" in 1980
Eurovision Song Contest 1980
The Eurovision Song Contest 1980 was the 25th Eurovision Song Contest and was held on 19 April 1980 in The Hague. The presenter was Marlous Fluitsma, although each song was introduced by a presenter from the nation represented...

, and "Hold Me Now" in 1987
Eurovision Song Contest 1987
The Eurovision Song Contest 1987 was the 32nd Eurovision Song Contest and was held on 9 May 1987 in Brussels, Belgium after Sandra Kim's win the previous year. The presenter was Viktor Lazlo. Johnny Logan was the winner for Ireland with the song "Hold Me Now"...

),
Bucks Fizz
Bucks Fizz (band)
Bucks Fizz are an English pop group who achieved success in the 1980s, most notably for winning the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Making Your Mind Up". The group was formed in January 1981 specifically for the contest and comprised four vocalists: Bobby G, Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and...

 ("Making Your Mind Up
Making Your Mind Up
"Making Your Mind Up" is a song by British pop group Bucks Fizz. It was the winner of the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest and a UK Number-one single...

", United Kingdom 1981
Eurovision Song Contest 1981
The Eurovision Song Contest 1981 was the 26th Eurovision Song Contest and was held on 4 April 1981 at the Simmonscourt Pavilion of the Royal Dublin Society in Dublin. The presenter was Doireann Ní Bhriain...

), Nicole ("Ein bißchen Frieden
Ein Bißchen Frieden
"Ein bißchen Frieden" is a song in German, written by prolific German Eurovision-writing duo Ralph Siegel and Bernd Meinunger for the Eurovision Song Contest 1982 in Harrogate, Yorkshire, England....

", Germany 1982
Eurovision Song Contest 1982
The Eurovision Song Contest 1982 was the 27th Eurovision Song Contest and was held on 24 April 1982 in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom. The presenter was Jan Leeming. The opening of the contest showed a map of Europe, with the translation "Where is Harrogate?" popping up on-screen from...

), Herreys
Herreys
Herreys, or Herrey's, is a Swedish pop group, consisting of the three Mormon brothers Per Herrey , Richard Herrey and Louis Herrey . They won the Eurovision Song Contest 1984 with the song "Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley". In 1985, they won the Sopot International Song Festival with "Sommarparty på Stranden"...

 ("Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley
Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley
"Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley" was the winning song in the Eurovision Song Contest 1984 performed in Swedish by a trio of brothers named Herrey's. Lyrics were written by Britt Lindeborg, and the tune by Torgny Söderberg...

", Sweden 1984
Eurovision Song Contest 1984
The Eurovision Song Contest 1984 was the 29th Eurovision Song Contest and was held on 5 May 1984 in Luxembourg. The presenter was Désirée Nosbusch. Nosbusch, only 19 years old at the time, hosted the show in a lax manner, which was quite unusual for this show back then...

) and Sandra Kim
Sandra Kim
Sandra Caldarone , better known as Sandra Kim, is a Belgian singer of Italian descent who won the Eurovision Song Contest 1986 held in Bergen, Norway, on 3 May 1986....

 ("J'aime la vie
J'Aime La Vie
"J'aime la vie" was the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 1986, performed for Belgium by Sandra Kim. Belgium had finished the 1985 Contest in last place, and thus achieved the rare turnaround from last to first in the space of one year...

", Belgium 1986
Eurovision Song Contest 1986
The Eurovision Song Contest 1986 was the 31st Eurovision Song Contest and was held on 3 May 1986 in the Grieg Hall in Bergen, Norway. It was the first occasion on which Norway played host to the contest...

).

Many other winners include well-known artists who won the Contest mid-career, after they had already established themselves as successful. An example is Katrina and the Waves
Katrina and the Waves
Katrina and the Waves was an English pop rock band, best known for their 1985 hit "Walking on Sunshine" and their 1997 Eurovision Song Contest victory with the song "Love Shine a Light".-Pre-history: The Waves and Mama's Cookin' :...

, representing the United Kingdom, who were the winners of the contest with the song, Love Shine a Light.

Some artists, however, have vanished into relative obscurity, making little or no impact on the international music scene after their win.

Countries


Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 holds the record for the highest number of wins, having won the Contest seven times—including three times in a row in 1992, 1993 and 1994. France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 and United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 are joint second with five wins.

The early years of the Contest saw many wins for "traditional" Eurovision countries: France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. However, the success of these countries has declined in recent decades: the Netherlands last won in 1975; France in 1977; and Luxembourg in 1983. The last time Luxembourg entered the Contest was in 1993.

The first years of the 21st century produced a spate of first-time winners, from both "new" Eurovision countries, and old-timers who had entered for many years without a win. Every year from 2001 to 2008 resulted in a country winning for the first time. Estonia was the first post-soviet country to win the competition in 2001. The 2006 winner was Finland, which finally won after having entered the Contest for 45 years. Ukraine on the other hand did not have to wait so long, winning with their second entry in 2004. Serbia won the very first year it entered as an independent state, in 2007.

Criticisms and controversy


The Contest has been the subject of criticism regarding both its musical content and the perception that it is more about politics than it is about music.

Musical style and presentation


Because the musical
songs are playing to such a diverse international audience with contrasting musical tastes, and that countries want to be able to appeal to as many people as possible to gain votes, the majority of the songs have historically been middle-of-the-road pop. Deviations from this formula have rarely achieved success, leading to the Contest gaining a reputation for its music being "bubblegum pop
Bubblegum pop
Bubblegum pop is a genre of pop music with an upbeat sound contrived and marketed to appeal to pre-teens and teenagers, produced in an assembly-line process, driven by producers, often using unknown singers.Bubblegum's classic period ran from 1967 to 1972...

". This well-established pattern, however, was notably broken in 2006 with Finnish hard rock band Lordi
Lordi
Lordi is a Finnish hard rock/heavy metal band, formed in 1996 by the band's lead singer, songwriter and costume-designer, Mr. Lordi. The band is known for wearing monster masks and using pyrotechnics during concerts...

's landslide victory and in 2007, Serbia won with a powerful ballad. As Eurovision is a visual show, many performances attempt to attract the attention of the voters through means other than the music, notably elaborate lighting sequences and pyrotechnics
Pyrotechnics
Pyrotechnics is the science of using materials capable of undergoing self-contained and self-sustained exothermic chemical reactions for the production of heat, light, gas, smoke and/or sound...

; sometimes leading to bizarre on-stage theatrics and costumes, including the use of revealing dress.

Political and national voting


The Contest has long been accused of political bias, where the perception is that judges—and now televoters—allocate points based on their nation's relationship to the other countries, rather than the musical merits of the songs. According to one study of Eurovision voting patterns, certain countries tend to form "clusters" or "cliques" by frequently voting in the same way. Another study concludes that as of 2006, voting bloc
Voting bloc
A voting bloc is a group of voters that are so motivated by a specific concern or group of concerns that it helps determine how they vote in elections. The divisions between voting blocs are known as cleavage...

s have, on at least two occasions, crucially affected the outcome of the contest. On the other hand, however, others argue that certain countries allocate disproportionately high points to others because of similar musical tastes, cultures and because they speak similar languages, and are therefore more likely to appreciate each other's music; for example, the explanation for Greece and Cyprus' routine exchange of 12 points in every possible occasion since popular voting was introduced in 1998 is because those countries share the same music industry and language, and artists who are popular in one country are popular in the other.

Another influential factor is the high proportion of expatriates, ethnic minorities and diaspora living in certain countries, often due to recent political upheaval. Although judges and televoters cannot vote for their own country's entry, expatriates and diaspora can vote for their country of origin from their current location.

Since the number of points to be distributed allotted to each country remains equal, and independent of their population, voters in countries with larger populations have less power as individuals to influence the result of the Contest than those voting from countries with smaller populations.

In a move to help reduce the effects of voting blocs since the advent of televoting in the Eurovision Song Contest, national juries were re-introduced alongside televoting in the final in 2009, each contributing 50% of the vote. This hybrid system was implemented in the semi-finals for 2010.

Spin-offs


A number of spin-offs and imitators of the Eurovision Song Contest have been produced over the years:
  • Junior Eurovision Song Contest
    Junior Eurovision Song Contest
    The Junior Eurovision Song Contest , is an international song competition which has been organised by the European Broadcasting Union annually since 2003 and is open exclusively to broadcasters that are members of the EBU. It is held in a different European city each year.The competition has many...

    —held annually since 2003, for artists under the age of 16.
  • MGP Nordic
    MGP Nordic
    MGP Nordic is a Scandinavian song contest for children aged 8 to 15, organized by DR, NRK, SVT and YLE through FST5...

    —Nordic contest similar to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest.
  • Our Sound
    Our Sound
    Our Sound: The Asia-Pacific Song Contest was planned to be an annual songwriting competition based on the Eurovision Song Contest. As of 29 November 2010, the website claims 'Coming Soon', the organisers do not actively participate on the Facebook page with the last response on 13 March 2011, and...

    —Asia-Pacific version
  • Bundesvision Song Contest
    Bundesvision Song Contest
    The Bundesvision Song Contest is an annual competition created by German TV entertainer Stefan Raab in 2005. For each of the 16 states of Germany a song is chosen by regional radio stations. The songs are performed on live television in order to find the most popular song in the competition...

    —held annually between the 16 states of Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

     since 2005.
  • Sopot International Song Festival
    Sopot International Song Festival
    The Sopot International Song Festival is an international song contest held in Sopot, Poland. It was the biggest Polish music festival altogether with the National Festival of Polish Song in Opole, and one of the biggest annual song contest in Europe...

    —held in Sopot
    Sopot
    Sopot is a seaside town in Eastern Pomerania on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea in northern Poland, with a population of approximately 40,000....

    , Poland, annually since 1961.
  • Intervision Song Contest
    Intervision Song Contest
    The Intervision Song Contest was the Eastern Bloc equivalent to the Eurovision Song Contest. Its organiser was the Intervision, the network of Eastern Europe television stations. It took place in the Forest Opera in Sopot, Poland....

    —held by the Eastern Bloc
    Eastern bloc
    The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

     countries between 1977 and 1980.
  • OTI Festival
    OTI Festival
    OTI Festival was an annual singing competition, held between 1972 and 2000, among active member countries of the Organización de Televisión Iberoamericana .- Venues and Presenters :- Winners :-By country:...

    —held by Spanish
    Spanish language
    Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

     and Portuguese
    Portuguese language
    Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

    -speaking countries between 1972 and 1998 and 2000.
  • Yamaha Music Festival
    Yamaha Music Festival
    The World Popular Song Festival, also known as Yamaha Music Festival and unofficially as the "Oriental Eurovision", was an international song contest held in 1970-1989. It was organised by the Yamaha Music Foundation in Tokyo, Japan from 1970 until 1989...

    , celebrated in Tokyo
    Tokyo
    , ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

     between 1970 and 1988.
  • World Oriental Music Festival—first held in Sarajevo
    Sarajevo
    Sarajevo |Bosnia]], surrounded by the Dinaric Alps and situated along the Miljacka River in the heart of Southeastern Europe and the Balkans....

     in 2005; includes participants from Europe and Asia.
  • Baltic Song Contest—held annually in Karlshamn
    Karlshamn
    Karlshamn is a locality and the seat of Karlshamn Municipality in Blekinge County, Sweden with 12,957 inhabitants of the city core and 30 918 in the municipality ....

    , Sweden
    Sweden
    Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

    .
  • Castlebar Song Contest
    Castlebar Song Contest
    The Castlebar Song Contest was an annual international song contest that was first staged in 1966 in Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland. The contest was initially organised by the Castlebar Chamber of Commerce as part of a drive to increase tourism to the town...

    —held annually in Castlebar
    Castlebar
    Castlebar is the county town of, and at the centre of, County Mayo in Ireland. It is Mayo's largest town by population. The town's population exploded in the late 1990s, increasing by one-third in just six years, though this massive growth has slowed down greatly in recent years...

    , County Mayo
    County Mayo
    County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

    , Ireland
    Republic of Ireland
    Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

    , between 1966 and 1989.
  • Asiavision Song Contest: An Asian music competition similar to the Eurovision Song Contest is scheduled to be held in 2012.

In Autumn 2005, the EBU organised a special programme to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Contest. The show, entitled Congratulations
Congratulations (Eurovision)
Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest was a television programme organised by the European Broadcasting Union to commemorate the Eurovision Song Contest's fiftieth anniversary and to determine the Contest's most popular entrant of its fifty years. It took place at Forum,...

 (after Cliff Richard
Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard, OBE is a British pop singer, musician, performer, actor, and philanthropist who has sold over an estimated 250 million records worldwide....

's entry
Congratulations (song)
"Congratulations" is a song written by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter as the UK entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1968 on 6 April with Cliff Richard performing....

 for the United Kingdom in 1968) was held in Copenhagen, and featured many artists from the last 50 years of the Contest. A telephone vote was held to determine the most popular Eurovision song of all-time, which was won by ABBA's "Waterloo" (winner, Sweden 1974).

Further reading




External links