Last weekend, the EBU Reference Group and RTS, next year's Eurovision Song Contest host broadcaster held their second meeting in Belgrade. The topics discussed were the 2008 theme art, the launch of the official website and most importantly the dates of the two semi finals and the way the countries will be divided between them.
"This might be the most important Reference Group meeting since 2003, when the new format featuring one Semi-Final was accepted," stated Svante Stockselius, the EBU Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest.
The most important issues discussed were those of the dates and the format of the two semi finals. The Reference Group proposed that the two semis be held on two different dates, Tuesday 20th and Thursday 22nd of May. The countries have been divided in groups (pots) according to statistical data- geographical position andvoting patterns since 2004- and, in the case the proposal is approved by the TV Committee, the initial draw that will decide which country participates in which semi final will take place in January. That will ensure that broadcasters have ample time to schedule their transmissions. The final running order will be drawn as in previous years during the Head of Delegation's meeting in Belgrade next March.
RTS updated the Reference Group about the stage of the preparations and their plans for the upcoming contest. A revamped edition of the sublogo and theme art was presented and was commented upon by the members of the Reference Group. The finalised version of the artwork as well as the stage will be decided upon before the end of the year.
The official 2008 Eurovision Song Contest website wil be launched by the Interactive Unit of Eurovision TV, the TV department of the EBU, in cooperation with RTS. A live webcast of the final and both semi finals will be provided on the site, just as it was last year.
Proposals agreed at this weekend's reference group meeting will now be put forward to the EBU Television committee for final approval.
Stay tuned to esctoday.com for more news from the reference group meeting later today.