A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
There is always some matter to discuss or just a song I want to share
Very welcome - I hope you'll like it here!

Friday, May 31, 2013

What about the Big Five?

Yesterday I suggested that it could perhaps be worth considering cutting the number of songs in the ESC final down to 22-24 instead of 26 and I got plenty of feedback on that. Good. Every aspect of the show should be open for discussion.

Quite a few people also voiced the opinion that the Big Five rule should be scrapped: let France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK go through the semis like everyone else.

That has always been a touchy subject, ever since the Big Five system was introduced (in 2001, if I remember correctly). There was talk in 1996 how Germany's absence from the final really strained the NRK budget and how hard it would be staging the contest without one or several of the biggest contributors.

I have always seen the Big Five rule as a necessary evil: if that is what it takes for the ESC to go on properly so be it. Especially if the Biggies also show some commitment by contributing strong entries. Which has not always been the case.

But is this rule really needed? When it was created relegation still meant you had to miss the entire contest for a year and the EBU did not want to risk any of the Biggies to be absent. Since 2004 and the introduction of the semis nobody needs to miss a year anyway.

So what is the argument for keeping this outdated system? That the broadcasters in question would be really upset if it changed? That their viewers would never watch a final unless they have their own entry? Well, that is already the situation for everyone else.

Now that the process is underway to scale down the contest and diminish the costs of hosting and organising - will it still be absolutely necessary to keep the Big Five in the contest in order to afford it?

That would certainly be something for the reference group to ponder before the 2014 contest.


  1. Perhaps we don't need this discussion if more countries will leave ESC. We never got so many mails from ESC fans who are no longer interested in watching ESC because of these strange votings.
    We got mails from several ESC fans from UK who told us their presenter said on TV that Glorious by Cascada was a plagiat and therefore the people didn't vote for it.

    Linde Lund

  2. For starters I don't see what material difference it would make to go to 24 or 22.
    Lopping 10-15 mins off the running time won't make it less boring for people who find it so and the reduction in costs would surely be a drop in the ocean?
    The big 5 rule seems fair enough to me.
    My understanding is they contribute much more to the EBU as a whole - not just Eurovision - and effectively prop up most of the events.
    Plus, presumably if you lose lots of viewers (or ALL viewers if the broadcast isn't carried by the big 5 countries) it would badly impact the profits from phone votes.
    Like it or not we live in a world where money is the bottom line.
    To be honest I don't think many of the semi-final losers can have too many complaints this year anyway except maybe Israel.

  3. I've never found Eurovision drags. Usually by song 23, I'm going "OH NO, IS IT REALLY ABOUT TO END?"

    Personally, as a grumpy Brit, I would really love my country to stop phoning it in and to make some damn effort, or at least pretend to.

    (Not that I think Bonnie didn't try, but she was a lazy choice, with the wrong song and no attempt at presenting it at all well.)

    Sadly, I'm not sure that removing the big 5 would convince them to make that effort. I can dream though. And if having the big five system means that the countries that do make an effort can afford to do crazy things with the staging, then I'll grugingly tolerate them as a necessary evil.