During a three-day meeting of the European Broadcasting Union's Reference Group of the Eurovision Song Contest in Athens' Plaza NJV Hotel, several issues concerning the contest have been discussed. Representatives of the so-called 'Big 4' (Spain, France, United Kingdom and Germany) were invited as well.
The Reference Group can be considered as the board of the Eurovision Song Contest and exists of chairman (Ruurd Bierman, Dutch NOS), representatives of the last two host broadcasters (Ukrainian NTU and Turkish TRT), a representative of the host broadcaster ERT, three elected members by the participation broadcasters (representatives of Finnish YLE, Slovenian RTVSLO and German NDR) and the contest's supervisor (Svante Stockselius).
Discussions about the 'Big 4'
The Reference Group invited representatives of the so-called 'Big 4', to discuss the contest and their role. Since the late nineties, the 'Big 4' countries are guaranteed a place in the final, as their financial contribution to the contest is essential for the organisation. In Kyiv, these four countries ended up on the last four positions, which raised a public discussion again about the justification of the 'Big 4' scenario. The Reference Group discussed a scenario in which the 'Big 4' are not automatically qualified for the final of the contest, but have to go through the semifinal in case of a low ranking in the previous year. For the moment, no decision was taken, but the subject will return on future Reference Group meetings. The next one is scheduled for the week prior to the anniversary event Congratulations, which takes place on 22nd October in Copenhagen.
As the 'Big 4' contribution is mostly based on demographical statistics, the 'Big 4' do not buy their final ticket, unlike what many people think, but they 'deserve' it based on the rules of the contest. Now all participating countries automatically participate every year, the function of the 'Big 4' is – without any doubt – questionable.
More information about the Reference Group meeting soon!