ESC Rules



In the lead up to the Eurovision Song Contest, selections take place in the represented countries. These selections are being organized by the respective national public broadcasters who are Active Members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Represented countries may select their entry, whether by an internal decision of the participating broadcaster or a public contest that allows the country’s public to televote between several songs. These public selections are known as National Finals.

To take part in the Eurovision Song Contest, you need to win a national selection, or be selected by one of the participating broadcasters.


The Eurovision Song Contest is a co-production between the European Broadcasting Union and Member Broadcasters. Behind the scenes, television professionals from across Europe continuously work on securing a bright future for Europe’s favorite TV shows.

Traditionally, the Eurovision Song Contest is being produced by the national public broadcaster of the country that won the year before. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) supports the Host Broadcaster and provides link with the participating EBU Member Broadcasters. As initiator of the Eurovision Song Contest, the EBU is also taking care of brand management, international marketing activities, general communications and the official website.

Since 2008, the Eurovision Song Contest consists of three live shows, aired prime-time to millions of homes across Europe. During two Semi-Finals, viewers and juries across Europe determine which countries will be represented in the Final.


In 2004, the first televised Semi-Final was introduced, to give more countries the opportunity to take part. Another benefit was that each country can take part every year, and no one has to stay home due to disappointing results the year after like before. In 2008, a second Semi-Final was introduced.

A major benefit of having Semi-Finals is that the quality of the songs in the Final is the highest possible, as only the best songs manage to qualify. The “Big 5” countries – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and Host are automatically qualified for the Final.

Semi-Finals also took place in 1993 and 1996, but they were not televised. Juries in the participating countries simply listened to the studio recordings of the songs and then awarded them with points.


The running order of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest was decided by the producers of the show, instead of the traditional Running Order Draw. The contest’s governing body, the Reference Group, decided that in 2013. The decision was approved by the Television Committee of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), as well.

As before, the countries that perform in the Semi-Finals and Final were determined by the Allocation Draw. Different from previous years, the producers of the show determined the exact running order. Only the starting position of the host country was determined by draw in the Final.


In the Grand Final, the final scores of the songs shall be calculated on the basis of both the results of the televoting and the results of the national juries appointed.

The scores of each song in each country shall be determined as follows: 12 points shall be allocated to the song having obtained the highest combined number of votes from the televoting and from the juries, 10 points to the song having obtained the second-highest combined number of votes from the televoting and from the juries, 8 points to the song having obtained the third-highest combined number of votes from the televoting and from the juries, 7 points to the next, and so on down to 1 point.

The members of each national jury will watch the live transmission of the 2nd dress rehearsal for both the Grand Final and the Semi Final in which that country is voting. After the transmission they will vote in accordance with the European Broadcasting Union Rules.

The winner of the Grand Final shall be the song which has obtained the highest number of points from the combined calculation (50/50) of the televoting results and of the juries’ scores from all participating countries.

Winning the Eurovision Song Contest provides a unique opportunity for the winning artist to capitalise on the surrounding publicity to further his/her career.


The term “Eurovision Week” is used to refer to the week during which the contest takes place. As it is a live show, the Eurovision Song Contest requires the performers to have perfected their acts in rehearsals in order for the big night to run smoothly.

The delegations arrive in the host city many days before the event. Journalists and fans are also present during the preceding days, and so the events of Eurovision last a lot longer than a few hours of television. A number of officially accredited hotels are selected for the delegations to stay in, and shuttle-bus services are used to transport the performers and accompanying people to and from the contest venue.


On the Monday evening of Eurovision Week, a Mayor’s Reception is traditionally held, where the city administration hosts a celebration that Eurovision has come to their city. This is usually held in a grand municipally owned location in the city centre. All delegations are invited, and the party is usually accompanied by live music, complimentary food and drink.

After the semi-final and grand final there are after-show parties.

A Euroclub is held every night of the week; a Eurovision-themed nightclub to which all accredited personnel are invited.

During the week many delegations have traditionally hosted their own parties.


Every participant is given the opportunity to rehearse . Before each of the semi-finals and Grand Final rehearsals are held. For both semi-finals and for the final, the second dress rehearsal is the Jury Final, this is where the jury from each country casts their votes. This means that 50% of the result is already decided before the live contests have taken place.

After each country has rehearsed, the delegation hold a press conference where members of the accredited press may pose them questions.


Each public broadcaster taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest appoints a Head of Delegation. This person is the European Broadcasting Union’s contact person and the leader of his/her delegation, which includes the Head of Press, performers, song writers, composers, backing vocalists and other people.

Traditionally, the delegation head visits the Heads of Delegation meeting in March, where everyone is being informed on the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest and where the draw for the running order takes place.


The Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group is the executive Expert Committee for all Members, its purpose being to control and guide the Eurovision Song Contest. The Reference Group was established by the European Broadcasting Union’s Television Committee in 1998 and its main tasks are approving the development and future format of the Eurovision Song Contest, securing the financing, modernising the brand and raising awareness and overseeing the yearly preparation by the Host Broadcaster.

The Reference Group meets four to five times each year on behalf of all Participating Broadcasters, and is required to take decisions in the general interest of the Eurovision Song Contest. The Reference Group is composed of a Chairman, three elected members of the Entertainment Experts Group of the EBU, two Executive Producers from previous host countries, as well as the Executive Producer of the current Host Broadcaster and the EBU Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor.


Each year of the contest, the host country creates a sub-theme which is usually accompanied and expressed with a sub-logo and slogan. The theme and slogan are announced by the EBU and the host country’s national broadcaster.


A maximum of 46 Active EBU Members shall be allowed to participate.

Active EBU Members from a maximum total of 26 countries shall compete in the Final. There shall be six guaranteed places therein: the Host Broadcaster, five EBU Members from France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The contest is composed of three live Shows, two Semi- Finals usually taking place on Tuesdays and on Thursdays and one Final taking place on Saturdays.

Viewers in the countries of the Participating Broadcasters are invited to vote for their favourite songs (without the possibility of voting for the song representing their own country) by means of televoting.

In addition, in each participating country, there shall be a National Jury to be appointed by that country’s Participating Broadcaster to vote in the Semi-Finals and in the Final.

With respect to the televoting, the song which has received the highest number of votes shall be ranked first, the song which has received the second highest number of votes shall be ranked second and so on until the last song.

With respect to the National Jury voting, the jury members shall rank first their favourite song, second, their second favourite song, third, their third favourite song, and so on until their least favourite song which shall be ranked last. Abstentions are not allowed, except that the song representing the country of the Participating Broadcaster which has appointed the National Jury shall be excluded from the vote.

In both Semi-Finals and in the Final, the ranks of the televoting and the National Jury shall be combined.

The compositions (lyrics and music) must not have been commercially released before the 1st of September 2014. In case the composition has been made available to the public, for example, but not limited to, on online video platforms, social networks or (semi-) publicly accessible databanks, the Participating Broadcaster must inform the Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor, who shall have authority to evaluate whether the composition is eligible for participation in the Event.

The maximum duration of each song is three minutes.

Each performance may consist of a maximum of six people on stage. No live animals shall be allowed on stage.

All artists competing in a Semi-Final must be aged at least 16 on the day of the Final. All artists competing only in the Final must be aged at least 16 on the day of the Final.

No artist may compete for more than one country in the Eurovision Song Contest in a given year. Each Participating Broadcaster is free to decide the language in which its artist(s) will sing.

Artists shall perform live on stage, accompanied by a recorded backing-track which contains no vocals of any kind or any vocal imitations.

The lyrics and/or performance of the songs shall not bring the Shows, the Eurovision Song Contest as such or the EBU into disrepute. No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature shall be permitted during the Eurovision Song Contest. No swearing or other unacceptable language shall be allowed in the lyrics or in the performances of the songs. No messages promoting any organisation, institution, political cause or other, company, brand, products or services shall be allowed in the Shows and within any official Eurovision Song Contest premises (i.e. at the venue, the Eurovision village, the Press Centre, etc.). A breach of this rule may result in disqualification.


Biggest change to Eurovision Song Contest voting since 1975. Changes to the voting presentation in the Grand Final will inject new excitement in the contest.

The voting in the Eurovision Song Contest is set to be radically transformed in 2016. In previous years the results of the professional juries and viewers have been presented as a combined result, each accounting for 50 percent of the final score. From 2016, the professional juries and televoters from each country will each award a separate set of points from 1 to 8, 10 and 12. This now means the top 10 countries in both the jury and televote will receive points, adding a new level of excitement for hundreds of millions of viewers in Europe and beyond.

After viewers have cast their votes by telephone, SMS or using the official app, each national spokesperson from the 42 participating countries will be called in to present the points of their professional jury. After the presentation of the scores from the juries, the televoting points from all participating countries will be combined, providing one score for each song. These televoting results will then be announced by the host, starting with the country receiving the fewest points from the public and ending with the country that received the highest number of points, building towards a guaranteed climax.

For those wanting to know how their country has voted, the televoting and jury scores from each participating country will be available after the show on

2020 Eurovison Song Contest – RULES