The meeting of the Reference Group took place in Belgrade, host city of the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, at the kind invitation of its Executive Producer, Ms. Sandra Šuša of RTS, who is leaving the Reference Group after a three-year mandate. "Organising the Eurovision Song Contest was probably the most exciting work I have ever done," she said in her goodbye-speech.
The group also evaluated the Oslo 2010 contest at the Belgrade meeting with its Executive Producer, Mr Jon Ola Sand, who presented his final report. The report was unanimously approved by the Reference Group, which praised NRK for an excellent production. One of the most appreciated features of the 2010 contest was the excellent implementation of the theme Share The Moment.
German broadcaster NDR presented their four potential host cities for next year's competition; Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Hannover. A final decision about the host city of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest will be made in the weeks to come.
Usually, ten countries qualify in each of the two Semi-Finals, while France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, along with the host country, directly qualify for the Final. This brings 25 contestants to the Final. However, since Germany won the Eurovision Song Contest, there are only 24 countries represented in the Final based on the current rules. The Reference Group decided not to add a 25th participant to the Final from one of the Semi-Finals, and stick to the existing rules.
The Head of Delegation meeting of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest shall take place 14 and 15 March 2011 in the host city of the competition. The 14th of March is also the final deadline of all participating broadcasters to hand in entries for the 2011 contest to the European Broadcasting Union.
A request of participating broadcasters to move the so-called 'release date' from the 1st of October to the 1st of September has been approved by the Reference Group. The 'release date' is the date before which the songs entered for the Eurovision Song Contest must not have been commercially released and/or publicly performed, in full or in part.
Stay tuned for more news from the Reference Group meeting!