Eurovision For Beginners – Broadcasting

The broadcasting of Eurovision is a task taken on by a representative national broadcaster from each participating nation. The broadcaster must play the entire show, including all the songs, the recaps, the voting and the reprise. The only times broadcasters may cut out to advertising breaks is during interval acts. From 1999 onwards, there was more opportunity for advertisement breaks with the introduction of non-essential hiatuses within the programme.

There have been three times where there have been major interruptions to the broadcasting of the show since 1999. The first time was in the Netherlands, where the Dutch broadcaster cut to a major incident (Enschede fireworks disaster). Then, in Spain, RTVE delayed the 2009 second semi-final to show the Madrid Open tennis tournament. Lastly, the Albanian broadcaster delayed their broadcast of the 2012 first semi-final due to the Qafa e Vishës bus accident.

Other issues regarding broadcasting come from the issues of political recognition. In 1978, the Jordanian broadcaster JRTV suspended the broadcast during the performance of the Israeli song, and instead displayed pictures of flowers. When it became clear that Israel was on the path to win the contest, JRTV stopped the transmission, and claimed that it was Belgium who won, but really, Belgium placed 2nd. In 1981, a similar situation whereby JRTV did not broadcast the voting as it displayed the Israeli name on the scoreboard.

In 2005, Lebanon had intentions of participating in the contest, even to the extent that an artist had already been selected. However, Lebanese law does not allow any recognition of Israel, and as such, the Lebanese broadcaster had plans to not broadcast the Israeli entry. The EBU intercepted and informed the broadcaster that by doing this, they would be breaking the rules of the contest, and were subsequently forced to withdraw from their debut. They also received a fine for withdrawing late. Until 2009, Eurovision CD’s were available to purchase in Lebanon with Israel being erased from the back cover, however from 2010, the albums were then banned from being sold.

Another political occurrence in 2009, where Georgia selected a song titled ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In.’ The song text was banned by the EBU as it was interpreted as criticism of the Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin a year after the Russo-Georgian War. The lyrics of the song were not changed, and therefore the Georgian broadcaster withdrew themselves from the 2009 contest, which was held in Moscow, Russia.


The first edition of Eurovision back in 1956 was broadcast live but not recorded. Only the sound transmission has survived from the original broadcast. Additionally, the recording of the 1964 contest which was hosted by Danmarks Radio was destroyed in a fire, and it is unknown whether any other stations had a copy. With the 60th anniversary of the contest in 2016, the EBU aimed to archive the contests in order to set up an exhibition at the ABBA Museum in Stockholm. The exhibition features on demand clips of 60 years’ worth of music, however it is unknown whether there are plans to release these archives to the public.