The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has revealed the rules for the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest. The regulations for the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest not only suggest changes for the 2007 contest, but also announce changes in the way the semifinal participants are selected.
As already known, the deadline to apply for the contest is set at 30th November. The EBU willinform broadcasters about their participation fee by 16th December. Participants may withdraw without penalty until 23rd December. After this date, any broadcaster that withdraws will have to pay the full participation fee. All fees have to be paid to the EBU by 20th April. The delegation heads will meet in Athens on 20th and 21st March, where the draw for the running order will take place as well. The meeting is also the deadline for all broadcasters to present details of the songs and performers for 2006. Each broadcaster will need to submit a video and recording of their entry. It is also the deadline to ask for props and pyrotechnics. Each broadcaster that is taking part needs to establish a website to promote its national selection process by 28th January, 2006.
Greek broadcaster ERT will not pay any participation fee, though has been asked to provide a financial guarantee for the 2006 contest. The budget for 2006 is set at between 4.5 and 7.1 million euros. Participating broadcasters will together cover 3.6 million, ERT will complete the neccesary budget through sponsorship. Each participating broadcaster will receive back a share in the money generated through centralised marketing activities.
Content of songs
The new rules are more specific when it comes to the content of songs. Last year, the EBU requested to change the lyrics of the Ukrainian entry into a less political message. “No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature shall be permitted during the Eurovision Song Contest. The lyrics and/or performance of the songs shall not bring the Contest Final or the Eurovision Song Contest as such into disrepute”, the new rules state.
Qualification for the final
Just like last year, the order of presentation in the semifinal could have direct consequences for the result. Ten songs will win places in the final. The qualified songs will be those that receive the highest amount of points. If there is a tie for the tenth place, the country with points from the highest amount of countries will go to the final. After this, then there will be a count back, looking at who scored the most 12s, then 10s and so on. If there is still a tie, the matter “shall be resolved by giving precedence to the country or countries which were earliest in the running order for the semifinal�. This rule was introduced last year.
As last year, every broadcaster that takes part is obliged to show both the semifinal and the final.
Showing the Eurovision Song Contest preview videos is no longer compulsory, although the EBU does ask that “each Participating Broadcaster shall make every effort to promote its national selection process in its national media, including promotional trailers for the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest and/or news coverage”. This is somewhat weaker than in previous years. In 2005, the rules insisted that each broadcaster needed to produce a specific programme to highlight their entry to the contest. The EBU looks to be trying to ensure that the songs that will compete will not be made available through peer to peer networks; “All previews may also be made available (but without possibility to download) on each Participating Broadcaster's website, in addition to the official website of the Eurovision Song Contest”. Adding that, “if the sound recording is made available separately from the audiovisual recording, only the use of extracts (of a maximum of 30 seconds per song) is allowed”.
Previews will be once again made available on the official Eurovision Song Contest website. The EBU, though, also appears to be looking at new ways of delivering its online content. The rules this year speak of provisions for wireless technology, adding that the previews may be available for delivery through mobile phone and other portable receivers. It's likely the involvement of sponsor Cosmote is related to this rule.
The new regulations also state: “Any Participating Broadcaster may invoke any or all rights, which it enjoys under its national legislation to prevent or prohibit the unauthorised use of its own broadcasts of the Contest Final or any parts of such broadcasts, such as individual scenes or images, by third parties”. Some suggest this is an action against fan websites, to prevent webmasters from breaking with copyright legislation. The fact that there are copyright laws in all participating countries makes this rule somewhat unneccesary.
CD and DVD with commentators?
A compilation CD and DVD will once again be made available. Once again, there will be attempts to include commentaries on the DVD. This was suggested in 2005, though did not happen. This year the EBU is more guarded; “Commentators shall be required by the Participating Broadcasters to authorise the use of their commentary as a separate soundtrack on DVD”. There are also plans to make available the commentary feeds online, “The EBU shall attempt to make Participating Broadcasters' individual commentaries available in conjunction with that live stream, through the official website”.
Televoting is obligatory in each country. “The telephone network must ensure that at least 80% of the population of the country stands an equal chance of successfully calling in”. An exception is possible, though requests to be allowed to use a jury need to be made by 1st January. SMS voting may also be obligatory in countries where telephone providers can be certain that all votes charged for can also be counted within a given time-frame. The matter of voting fraud is addressed. The EBU states that it reserves the right to send international monitors to oversee the voting process without giving advance notice.
There is again, an attempt to restrict how commentators in each country present the show. “Participating Broadcasters shall ensure that their commentators respect the spirit and fairness of the competition. All commentators shall refrain from talking during the performance of the songs, and shall not make any sexist, racist or otherwise unduly discriminatory comments about the artists. Commentators should also refrain from urging the audience to vote for, or not to vote for, any particular song”.
Presentation of the points
Rumours have begun to circulate that the EBU is looking at ways to slim down the voting sequence. At the Junior Eurovision later this month, viewers will hear only the points from six upwards, scores between one and five will appear on the scoreboard automatically. If this is judged to work, it is likely to be used in May next year; “The final procedure of how the points will be presented in the Final will be decided by the Reference Group and be presented at the meeting of the Heads of Delegation on 20-21 March 2006 at the latest”.
Looking to the future, there is a suggestion that change is on the way, the rules remain somewhat vague on this, saying “If the format for the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest changes, it is not guaranteed that the pre-qualification rules for the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest shall automatically also be valid for the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest. The final format for the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest will be decided by the Reference Group and the Television Committee and shall be presented at the meeting of the Heads of Delegation on 20-21st March 2006 at the latest”.
UPDATE: This article based on a DotEurovision.com publication, which stated that the 10 countries with points from most countries would qualify for the final. Although 'Dot' is considered to be a highly reliable source, this appeared to be incorrect, as the 10 countries with the highest amount of points qualify for the final. We apologise our readers for the inconvenience and kindly thank DotEurovision.com editor Adrian Bedford for the correction!