During the Head of Delegations meeting that took place in Helsinki over the last two days, one of the most important issues to be debated was how to change the Eurovision Song Contest structure to accomodate the growing number of participating countries. The most likely format will be two semi finals, countries will be divided along the time-zone principle, with countries from the East taking part in the first semi final and countries from the West taking part in the second semi final. The final will contain 25 participating countries.
The winning country from the previous year will automatically qualify for the final along with the 'big four' (France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom). 10 countries will then qualify from each semi final to give a final with 25 countries participating. The public will only be able to vote on the semi-final in which their country participates.
Countries would be split according to time zone, and where there is a meet, they would simply be divided by geographical location, those closest to the West would enter the western semi final, those to the East would join their Eastern colleagues. There has been no agreement on whether the semi finals will take place on two consecutive nights, or both on the same evening, one after the other.
With countries being divided between East and West, the so called 'diaspora voting' would be severely limited in its power in the semi final. In recent years, many have argued that whilst political or diaspora voting does not effect the winning countries, it does strongly determine the qualification of certain countries every year from the semi final.
Further analysis of this method of division is the block splits. Finland would most likely be divided from her Scandinavian partners because the country is 1 hour ahead of Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The division would also split the former Yugoslavian states with Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina falling into Western Europe, whilst FYR Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro are likely to fall into the Eastern semi final.
Western Semi Final
Portugal, Iceland, Ireland, Andorra, Monaco, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Malta, Sweden, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, Bosnia Herzegovina, Hungary
Eastern semi final
Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkey, Israel, Cyprus, Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Greece, FYR Macedonia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Finland
HAVE YOUR SAY
Do you think this format will improve the Eurovision Song Contest? Are three shows too much? Is this the best way to divide countries into the semi finals? Will it help solve political and diaspora voting? Have your say in the reactions section below.