This continent is all torn apart. It won’t become better if this goes on. Dark minds are taking controll. We can’t let them do this. Why don’t we meet in a contest without weapons. This contest will be…
…the Eurovision Song Contest (French: Concours Eurovision de la chanson since 1973; sometimes popularly called Eurovision or Grand Prix but not to be confused with the Eurovision network that broadcasts it) is the longest-running annual international TV song competition, held, primarily, among the member countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) since 1956. The competition was based upon the existing Sanremo Music Festival held in Italy since 1951.
Each participating country submits an original song to be performed on live television and radio 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 for sixty-two years, 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 several countries that do not compete, such as the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and China. An exception was made in 2015, when Australia was allowed to compete as a guest entrant as part of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the event. In November 2015, the EBU announced that Australia was invited back as a participant in the 2016 contest after their success in 2015. Following their success again in 2016, Australia competed again in 2017. Since 2000, the contest has also been broadcast over the Internet via the Eurovision website.
Winning the Eurovision Song Contest provides a short-term boost to the winning artists’ career, but rarely results in long-term success. Notable exceptions are ABBA (winner in 1974 for Sweden), Bucks Fizz (winner in 1981 for the United Kingdom) and Céline Dion (winner in 1988 for Switzerland), all of whom launched successful worldwide careers after their wins.
Ireland holds the record for the highest number of wins, having won the contest seven times—including four times in five years in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996. Under the current voting system, the highest scoring winner is Salvador Sobral of Portugal who won the 2017 contest in Kiev, Ukraine, with 758 points. Under the previous system, in place from 1975 to 2015, the highest scoring winner is Alexander Rybak of Norway with 387 points in 2009.
In the 1950s, as a war-torn Europe rebuilt itself, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU)—based in Switzerland—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 in January 1955 with Marcel Bezençon of the Swiss television as chairman, the committee conceived the idea (initially proposed by Sergio Pugliese of the Italian television RAI) of an international song contest where countries would participate in one television programme to be transmitted simultaneously to all countries of the union. The competition was based upon the existing Sanremo Music Festival held in Italy and was seen as a technological experiment in live television, as in those days it was a very ambitious project to join many countries together in a wide-area international network. Satellite television did not exist, and the Eurovision Network comprised a terrestrial microwave network. The concept, then known as “Eurovision Grand Prix”, was approved by the EBU General Assembly in 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 journalist George Campey in the London Evening Standard in 1951.
The first contest was held in the town of Lugano, Switzerland, 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 was won by the host nation, Switzerland.
The format of the contest has changed over the years, though the basic tenets have always been thus: participant countries submit new original 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. The programme is hosted by one of the participant countries, and the transmission is sent from the auditorium 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 song with the most points is declared as the winner. The winner receives, simply, the prestige of having won—although it is usual for a trophy to be awarded to the winning songwriters, and the winning country is formally invited to host the event the following year.
The programme is invariably opened by one or more presenters, welcoming viewers to the show. Between the songs and the announcement of the voting, an interval act is performed. These acts can be any form of entertainment. Interval entertainment has included such acts as the Wombles (1974) and the first international presentation of Riverdance (1994).
As national broadcasters join and leave the Eurovision feed transmitted by the EBU, the EBU/Eurovision network logo ident (not to be confused with the song contest logo) is displayed. The accompanying theme music (used on other Eurovision broadcasts) is the prelude to Marc-Antoine Charpentier‘s Te Deum. Originally, the same logo was used for both the Eurovision network and the European Broadcasting Union, however, they now have two different logos; when the ident is transmitted, it is the Eurovision network logo that appears.
The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Finals are traditionally on a Saturday evening in May, at 19:00 UTC (15:00 EDT, 20:00 BST/IST, or 21:00 CEST). Usually one Saturday in May is chosen, although the contest has been held on a Tuesday (since the two semi-final system was introduced in 2008), on a Thursday (in 1956; and since 2005 in the semi-finals) and as early as March (in 1979).
Eligible participants include primarily Active Members (as opposed to Associate Members) of the EBU. Active members are those who are located in states that fall within the European Broadcasting Area, or are member states of the Council of Europe.
The “European Broadcasting Area” is bounded on the west by the western boundary of Region 1, on the east by the meridian 40° East of Greenwich and on the south by the parallel 30° North so as to include the northern part of Saudi Arabia and that part of those countries bordering the Mediterranean within these limits. In addition, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine and those parts of the territories of Iraq, Jordan and Syrian Arab Republic lying outside the above limits are included in the European Broadcasting Area.[a]
The western boundary of Region 1 is defined by a line running from the North Pole along meridian 10° West of Greenwich to its intersection with parallel 72° North; thence by great circle 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.
Active members include broadcasting organisations, whose transmissions are often 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. A separate copy is drafted annually. As of 2015, this included the necessity to have broadcast the previous year’s programme within their country. After Russia’s withdrawal from the 2017 event in Ukraine, and Channel 1 Russia’s refusal to air the event, there is some confusion as to whether this rule still exists. C1R has announced that they intend to enter in 2018.
Eligibility to participate is not determined by geographic inclusion within the continent of Europe, despite the “Euro” in “Eurovision” – nor does it have any relation to the European Union. Several countries geographically outside the boundaries of Europe have competed: Israel and Cyprus in Western Asia (Cyprus is a member of the Council of Europe and a member state of the European Union), since 1973 and 1981 respectively; Australia in the Australian continent, since 2015 and Morocco, in North Africa, in the 1980 competition alone. In addition, several transcontinental countries with only part of their territory in Europe have competed: Turkey, since 1975; Russia, since 1994; Armenia, since 2006; Georgia, since 2007; and Azerbaijan, which made its first appearance in the 2008 edition.
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—often a national or regional capital city—and a suitable concert venue is identified. The two largest concert venues were Parken in Copenhagen (which held approximately 38,000 people when Denmark hosted in 2001) and the Esprit Arena in Düsseldorf (which held approximately 36,500 people when Germany hosted in 2011). The smallest town to have been hosts was Millstreet in County Cork, Ireland, in 1993. The village had a population of 1,500—although the Green Glens Arena 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 2005, hotel rooms were scarce as the contest organisers asked the Ukrainian 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.
After the first two contests were hosted by Switzerland and Germany, it was decided that henceforth the winning country 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:
- 1960—hosted by the BBC in London when the Netherlands declined due to expense. The UK was chosen to host because it had come second in 1959.
- 1963—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.
- 1972—hosted by the BBC in Edinburgh when Monaco was unable to provide a suitable venue: Monegasque television invited the BBC to take over due to its previous experience.
- 1974—hosted by the BBC in Brighton when Luxembourg declined due to expense. The BBC was becoming known as the host by default, if the winning country declined.
- 1980—hosted by the NOS in The Hague when Israel declined due to expense, having staged the 1979 event in Jerusalem, and the fact that the date chosen for the contest (19 April) was Israel’s Remembrance Day that year. The Dutch offered to host the contest after several other broadcasters (including the BBC) were unwilling to do so. The reluctance of those national broadcasters to stage the contest were due to already having hosted the event during the past couple of years, in addition to the expense involved.
With the invitation of Australia to participate since 2015, it was announced that due to the logistical and financial issues that would occur if Australia were to host, in the event of an Australian victory, the broadcaster SBS will co-host the next contest in a European city in collaboration with an EBU Member Broadcaster of their choice. However, this has yet to happen and since 1981, all contests have been held in the country which won the previous year.
The Eurovision Song Contest 2018 will be the 63rd edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest. It will take place for the first time in Portugal following the country’s first victory at the 2017 contest in Kiev, Ukraine with the song “Amar pelos dois“, performed by Salvador Sobral. The contest will be held at the Altice Arena in Lisbon and will consist of two semi-finals on 8 and 10 May and a final on 12 May 2018. The three live shows will be hosted by Filomena Cautela, Sílvia Alberto, Daniela Ruah and Catarina Furtado.
Forty-three countries will participate in the contest, equalling the record of the 2008 and 2011 editions. Russia will return after their absence from the previous edition, and for the first time since 2011, no country will be withdrawing from the contest.
Let the minstrel’s contest of 2018 beginn…
This article is based on the Wikipedia entry “Eurovsion Song Contest“, authors see here, and “Eurovision Song Contest 2018“, authors see here. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.