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Eurovision Song Contest Format

Each country that would like to enter must submit a song to represent them, this song must not have been performed in public nor have been commercially available this is to ensure that only new songs are entered into the contest.

To participate in the contest a country does not have to a member of the European Union nor be geographically located in Europe. Israel has been involved since 1973 and Morocco in North Africa participated in 1980. Instead it covers an area called Region 1 which EBU covers this encompasses Europe, Africa, the Middle East west of the Persian Gulf and including Iraq, the former Soviet Union and Mongolia, in all Fifty-one countries have participated at least once in the contest.

From 1998 onwards, four countries were given automatic qualification to the contest regardless of where they finished the previous year this was due to them being the four biggest contributors to the EBU (without whom there would be no show). These countries have become known as the "Big Four" and are the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain. Italy gained this privilege in 2010, so they are now known as the "BID Five". The other countries have to endure pre selection, relegation and semi-finals to get their song on the show.

Pre-selections and Relegation

Since 1993 there have been too many countries wanting to enter the contest then there is not enough reasonable time available to show in single night. To combat this several methods have been tried to limit the amount of countries appearing. First of all a pre-selection was held in which 7 countries fought for 3 available places. Then a relegation system was used whereby the 6 lowest placed counties in the 1993 score table were forced to skip the next years contest.

This continued until 1996 when all countries (except the host) had to submit tapes of their songs to see who would be included in the international broadcast, this led to Germany being excluded in 1996 and as they were one of the largest financial contributors and largest TV audience for the show it caused some embarrassment to the EBU. Therefore from 1998 the four main contributors (France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom) to the EBU were given automatic qualification to the event regardless to where they came on the scoreboard.

Semi Finals

During Eurovision 2004 the semi final was introduced and held on the Wednesday during Eurovision Week (this moved to Thursday in following years). The semi final included countries who did rank high enough on the scoreboard to gain automatic qualification. Those countries that appear in the semi final are do not qualify are still able to vote in the grand final. The ten highest scoring countries then are guaranteed a place in the following years final, without needing to participate in next year's semi final. If however one of the big four came in the top ten the next country on scoreboard (i.e. 11th place) will qualify as well.

 

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