Last week, the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group gathered in Berlin to discuss the short-term and long-term future of the contest. Today, we can already reveal one of the decisions taken during the meeting: the so-called Big Five (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) as well as the host country, Sweden, will appear more prominently in the Semi-Finals of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. The six countries will remain to be pre-qualified for the Grand Final.
The 'Big Five' and the host country will appear in the Semi-Final in which they will vote. This will be determined during the Semi-Final Allocation Draw in late January. For scheduling reasons, Germany was already granted the right to vote and appear in the second Semi-Final.
"It will look so much better to show the Big Five and the host country on the Eurovision Song Contest stage, performing their act as they will be in the Grand Final," says Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor of the contest on behalf of the EBU. To avoid the need to extend the length of the Semi-Finals, shortened clips of the 'Big Five' and host country stage performances will be shown, recorded during the previous night's Dress Rehearsal.
Another benefit of this change is the increased amount of rehearsal time for the Big Five and the host country. Due to their pre-qualification for the Grand Final, these six countries normally had less stage time than the Semi-Final participants. "More rehearsal time means better performances and a better TV show, since the production crew has more time to get acquainted with the act," says Sand.
As a consequence of this change, the 'Big Five' and the host country representative will have to be present in the host city to rehearse one or two days earlier than before, increasing its promotional opportunities. "From here on, its in the hands of these six countries to pick great entries for the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest," Sand concludes.
The 'Big Five'
France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom automatically qualified for the Grand Final since the introduction of a Semi-Final in 2004. Since 2000, these countries were granted the automatic right to participate, regardless of their previous results. When Italy re-joined the contest in 2011, the 'Big Four' became the 'Big Five'.
The Reference Group is the Eurovision Song Contest's governing body, consisting of eight members; a chairman, the EBU Executive Supervisor, the Executive Producer of the upcoming contest, the previous two Executive Producers and three members elected by the Heads of Delegation of all participating broadcasters.
For more exciting news in the lead up to the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, stay with us in the weeks to come!