Reference Group: what's on the agenda?

by Sietse Bakker 43 views

Today, the members of the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group arrive in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, to discuss the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest and future development of the contest's format for the upcoming years.

Yesterday, Greek broadcaster ERT re-estimated that about 15,000 tickets will be available for the semifinal, the final and the three rehearsals per event. Basically, this means approximately 120,000 tickets will be available for the upcoming contest. ERT plans to put tickets on sale through an established online ticket agency, to make it easy for foreign visitors to book tickets. The date will most likely be confirmed after the Reference Group meeting. The group will also look into and discuss the plans for the stage and on-screen presentation of the 51st Eurovision Song Contest.

Several other plans for the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest will be presented by the EBU, host broadcaster ERT and several of the contest's partners.

Promotion tours
In recent years, international promotion in advance of the contest became more and more common. It is clear, however, that some broadcasters do not have the money for or cannot commit public funds to cover the costs of an international promotion tour. During a special workshop, the question will be raised if this type of promotion amounts to unfair competition. If the group finds that this is the case, a new rule might be implemented to forbid international gigs in advance of the contest, something that could discourage some acts from entering the contest.

On the other hand, it must be said that the international promotion tours of, for example, last year's participants Angelica Agurbash (Belarus), Ivan & Delfin (Poland), Constantinos (Cyprus) and Greenjolly (Ukraine) didn't bring the result the singers hoped for. Participants without an international promotion tour, such as Shiri Maymon (Israel), Zdob si Zdub (Moldova) and No Name (Serbia & Montenegro) managed to finish among the best ten in Kyiv.

For the 50th anniversary show Congratulations, the mixed jury/televoting plan was obligatory for all participating broadcasters. Currently, the rules for the contest encourage 100% televoting, except in certain cases. Critics, fans and some of the EBU's Member Broadcasters call for the option to use a mixed jury/televoting system for the Eurovision Song Contest. Although many were charmed by the mixed system, a relatively small difference between jury and televoting results might affect a decision.

Future format
A quote from this year's rules: “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 20-21 March 2006 at the latest”.

During the upcoming Reference Group meeting, the question will be raised if and how to change the format as from 2007 to strenghten the Eurovision Song Contest.

The Reference Group
The Reference Group meets up to five times a year and the current chair is Ruurd Bierman of Dutch public broadcaster NOS. It includes three elected members; two executive producers from the previous two host countries and the executive producer of the current contest as well as contest Supervisor Svante Stockselius.

The group's task is mainly to control and guide development of the contest on behalf of the participating Member Broadcasters. It makes recommendations for changes in the format of the contest, looks into securing finance, promotion of the contest and keeps an eye on preparations made by the next host broadcaster.

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