The “Big Four” and “Big Five”

The “Big Four” and “Big Five”. In 1999, an exemption from relegation was introduced for France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, giving them an automatic right to compete in the 2000 contest and in all subsequent editions. This group, as the highest-paying EBU members which significantly fund the contest each year, subsequently became known as the “Big Four” countries. This group was expanded in 2011 when Italy began competing again, becoming the “Big Five”. Originally brought in to ensure that the financial contributions of the contest’s biggest financial backers would not be missed, since the introduction of the semi-finals in 2004, the “Big Five” now instead automatically qualify for the final along with the host country.

There remains debate on whether this status prejudices the countries’ results, based on reported antipathy over their automatic qualification and the potential disadvantage of having spent less time on stage through not competing in the semi-finals, however this status appears to be more complex given results of the “Big Five” countries can vary widely. This status has caused consternation from other competing countries, and was cited, among other aspects, as a reason why Turkey had ceased participating after 2012.