ESC RIGA 2003 (48ª)


  • Dates – Grand Final: Saturday, 24 May 2003 – 21:00 CEST
  • Host – Venue & Location: Skonto Olympic Hall / Olimpiskā Skonto Halle (Skonto Halle / Skonto Holl, Skonto Arena), Riga, 🇱🇻 Latvia
  • Presenter (s): Marie N (Māra N) & Renārs Kaupers
  • Musical Director:
  • Director: Sven Stojanović
  • Executive Producer: Brigita Rozenbrika
  • Executive Supervisor: Sarah Yuen
  • Multicamera Director: Sven Stojanović
  • Host broadcaster: Latvijas Televīzija (LTV)
  • Motto: “Magical Rendez-vous” (Maģiskais Rendez-vous)
  • Interval Act: A film showcasing 4 different styles of the Latvian music scene feat. Iļģi, Brainstorm (Prāta Vētra), Marie N and Raimonds Pauls.
  • Participants – Number of entries: 26 [🇬🇧 United Kindom (42ª), 🇪🇸 Spain (39ª), 🇸🇪 Sweden (40ª), 🇫🇷 France (43ª)🇲🇹 Malta (15ª), 🇭🇷 Croatia (10ª), 🇹🇷 Turkey (24ª), 🇪🇪 Estonia (8ª)🇩🇪 Germany (43ª)🇮🇱 Israel (23ª), 🇱🇻 Latvia (3ª), 🇷🇺 Russia (6ª), 🇬🇷 Greece (22ª), 🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina (8ª), 🇸🇮 Slovenia (8ª), 🇦🇹 Austria (39ª), 🇧🇪 Belgium (42ª), 🇨🇾 Cyprus (21ª), 🇷🇴 Romania (5ª), 🇺🇦 Ukraine (1ª), 🇮🇸 Iceland (16ª), 🇮🇪 Ireland (34ª), 🇳🇱 The Netherlands (41ª), 🇳🇴 Norway (39ª), 🇵🇱 Poland (8ª), 🇵🇹 Portugal (34ª)]
  • Debuting countries: 🇺🇦 Ukraine (1ª) 
  • Return: 🇮🇸Iceland (16ª)🇮🇪 Ireland (34ª)🇳🇱 The Netherlands (41ª), 🇳🇴 Norway (39ª), 🇵🇱 Poland (8ª)🇵🇹 Portugal (34ª)
  • Non-returning countries: 🇩🇰 Denmark (31ª), 🇫🇮 Finland (34ª), 🇱🇹 Lithuania (3ª), 🇲🇰 FYRO Macedonia (3ª),🇨🇭 Switzerland (41ª)
  • Vote – Voting system: Each country awards 1–8, 10, and 12 points to their ten favourite songs.
  • Nil Points: 🇬🇧 United Kindom (1ª)
  • Winning song: 1f3c6 “Everyway That I Can” – Sertab Erener – 🇹🇷 Turkey (1ª)

Logo ESC 2003 - A magical rendez-vous

About. Latvia hosted the competition in 2003 following Marie N’s victory in Tallinn the previous year. 

26 participants. A record 26 countries took part in the Eurovision Song Contest in the Latvian capital Riga. The slogan for 2003 was Rendezvous in Riga. Ukraine made its debut in the competition and sent one of the country’s biggest stars, Olexandr Ponomariov. Pop duo t.A.T.u. who only month before the contest had a major worldwide hit with “All The Things She Said”, represented Russia in Riga. The pair caused mischief during the event week by regularly disrupting the rehearsal schedule and failing to attend press conferences. Turkey won the contest for the first time after one of the closest finishes in the contest for years. Slovenia, the last country to deliver its results, had the casting vote. Belgium finished second with Russia in third place. 

About the winner. Sertab Erener won the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Everyway That I Can”. At the time Sertab was one of Turkey’s biggest stars and recorded duets with stars such as Ricky Martin and José Carreras. “Every Way That I Can” was a combination of eastern melodies and was reminiscent of the Tarkan and Holly Vallance hit “Kiss Kiss”.

Facts and figures. The United Kingdom scored nil points for the first time ever. “Cry Baby” performed by the duo Jemini finished last; The Belgian song, “Sanomi” by Urban Trad, was sung in a made-up language; A change in the tie-break rule was introduced which took into account the total number of countries voting for a song rather than counting the amount of top scores.

o/R  country PaRticipant(s) SONG – TRANSLATE – LANGUAGE Points  rank
01 🇮🇸 Iceland RÚV Birgitta (Birgitta Haukdal) Open Your Heart (Segðu Mér Allt, Tell Me Everything) English 081 08
02 🇦🇹 Austria ÖRF Alf Poier Weil der Mensch zählt (Because the human counts / Man is the measure of all things) German[a] 101 06
03 🇮🇪 Ireland RTÉ Mickey Harte We’ve Got The World Tonight English 053 11
04 🇹🇷 Turkey TRT Sertab Erener Everyway That I Can (Yapabileceğim her şekilde) English 167 01
05 🇲🇹 Malta PBS Lynn Chircop To Dream Again English 004 25
06 🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina PBSBIH Mija Martina (Мија Мартина) Ne brini (Не брини, Don’t worry) Croatian, English 027 16
07 🇵🇹 Portugal RTP Rita Guerra Deixa-me sonhar (só mais uma vez) [Let me dream  (just once more)] Portuguese, English 013 22
08 🇭🇷 Croatia HRT Claudia Beni (Клаудија Бени) Više nisam tvoja (Више нисам твоја, I’m not yours anymore) Croatian, English 029 15
09 🇨🇾 Cyprus CyBC Stelios Constantas (Στέλιος Κωνσταντάς) Feeling Alive English 015 20
10 🇩🇪 Germany ARD Lou Let’s Get Happy (Lasst uns glücklich werden) English 053 11
11 🇷🇺 Russia C1R t.A.T.u. (Тату) Ne ver’, ne boisia (Не верь, не бойся; Don’t believe, don’t be afraid / Не верь, не бойся, не проси; Ne Ver’, Ne Boisia, i Ne Prosi; Don’t Believe, Don’t Fear and Don’t Ask) Russian 164 03
12 🇪🇸 Spain TVE Beth Dime (Tell me) Spanish 081 08
13 🇮🇱 Israel IBA Lior Narkis (ליאור נרקיס) Words For Love (Milim La’Ahava, מילים לאהבה) Hebrew[b] 017 19
14 🇳🇱 The Netherlands NOS Esther Hart One More Night English 045 13
15 🇬🇧 United Kindom BBC Jemini Cry Baby English 000 26
16 🇺🇦 Ukraine NTU Olexandr (Olexandr Ponomaryov, Олександр Пономарьовm, Oleksandr Ponomariov, Олександр Пономарьов) Hasta la vista (До побаченя, So long) English[c] 030 14
17 🇬🇷 Greece ERT Mando (Μαντώ) Never Let You Go English 025 17
18 🇳🇴 Norway NRK Jostein Hasselgård I’m Not Afraid To Move On (Jeg er ikke redd for å gå videre) English 123 04
19 🇫🇷 France France 3 Louisa Baïleche Monts et merveilles (Mountains and wonders / The Moon and the Stars) French 019 18
20 🇵🇱 Poland TVP Ich Troje Keine Grenzen – Żadnych granic (No borders, Без границ) German, Polish, Russian 090 07
21 🇱🇻 Latvia LTV F.L.Y. (Mārtiņš Freimanis, Lauris Reiniks un Yana Kay) Hello From Mars (Sveiciens no Marsa) English 005 24
22 🇧🇪 Belgium RTBF Urban Trad Sanomi Imaginary 165 02
23 🇪🇪 Estonia ERR Ruffus Eighties Coming Back English 014 21
24 🇷🇴 Romania TVR Nicola Don’t Break My Heart English 073 10
25 🇸🇪 Sweden SVT Fame Give Me Your Love English 107  05
26 🇸🇮 Slovenia RTVSLO Karmen (Karmen Stavec, Кармен Ставец) Nanana (Lep poletni dan, A beautiful summer day) English 007 23

Participation map

A coloured map of the countries of Europe

Transmitirá a 2º semifinal noutro horário. Paesi partecipanti  Transmitirá a 1º semifinal em direto. Paesi che hanno partecipato in passato, ma non nel 2003

ESC 2003 Scoreboard Ι Detailed voting results:

Scoreboard - Eurovision Song Contest 2003

The Eurovision Song Contest 2003 was the 48th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. It took place in Riga, Latvia, following the country’s victory at the 2002 contest with the song “I Wanna” by Marie N. Organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and host broadcaster Latvijas Televīzija (LTV), the contest was held at the Skonto Hall on 24 May 2003. The contest was presented by last year’s winner Marie N and former contestant Renārs Kaupers.

Twenty-six countries participated in the contest, beating the record of twenty-five first set in 1993. It saw the return of Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland after having been relegated from competing the previous year. Portugal also returned to the contest after being absent the previous year, while Ukraine participated in the contest for the first time. Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Macedonia and Switzerland were relegated due to their poor results in 2002.

The winner was Turkey with the song “Everyway That I Can”, performed by Sertab Erener who wrote it with Demir Demirkan. This was Turkey’s first victory in the contest after 28 years of participation. Belgium, Russia, Norway and Sweden rounded out the top five. Further down the table, the United Kingdom achieved their worst result to date, finishing twenty-sixth (last place) with no points. However, they avoided relegation due to being one of the “Big Four” countries at the time. The host country Latvia placed twenty-fourth (third from last) – this was the first time since 1995 that the host entry did not place in the top 10, and it was, overall, the worst result for a host entry, since 1992.

This was the last contest to take place on one evening. The EBU revealed that it would be adding a semi-final show to the competition in order to accommodate the growing number of interested countries wishing to take part in the contest. This was also the last contest in which a relegation system was used to determine which countries would participate in the following year’s contest. As the Belgian entry was sung in an imaginary language, this was also the first time the contest featured a song with no parts performed in English or a language native to the country.

Skonto Hall, Riga – host venue of the 2003 contest.

1.Location. On 22 August 2002, Latvian public broadcaster Latvijas Televīzija (LTV) announced that it had chosen the Skonto Hall in Riga as the host venue for the 2003 contest.

Latvia won the Eurovision Song Contest 2002 on 25 May 2002 in Tallinn, Estonia with the song “I Wanna” performed by Marie N. This was Latvia’s first victory in the contest, which also carried the right for LTV to organise the 2003 contest. LTV initially had budgetary concerns with staging the contest. The chairman of the National Radio and Television Council Ojārs Rubenis stated that if the government presented no budget guarantees, the council, which owns shares in LTV, would vote against organising the contest. Rubenis elaborated that LTV was prepared to cover the creative side and broadcasting of the contest, but additional funds would be needed for infrastructure, hotels and other financial issues.

The Government of Latvia allotted €5.3 million for the event with a further €1.1 million being provided by the Riga City Council – covering the anticipated organisational costs for the contest. A task force that included members from LTV, the National Radio and Television Council and state secretaries was formed to explicitly work on organisation of the contest and report on the estimated expenses.

1.1.Bidding phase. Locations of the candidate cities: the chosen host city is marked in blue, while the eliminated cities are marked in red.

Three cities were considered as host city of the contest: Riga, Ventspils and Jūrmala. LTV requested proposals from the three cities concerning how they plan to organise the contest. Riga City Council offered the Mežaparks Open-air Stage, Skonto Hall and the Ķīpsala International Exhibition Centre as potential venues for hosting the contest. Ventspils bid to host the contest at the Ventspils Olympic Centre with a pledge of support from city mayor Aivars Lembergs, who added that Ventspils could also provide two cruise ferries that could be used to accommodate up to 8,000 guests. Jūrmala City Council offered the Dzintari Concert Hall with plans to expand and upgrade the facility and surrounding infrastructure.

LTV’s organisational task force later decided to proceed with the bids from Riga and Ventspils, eliminating Jūrmala and the Mežaparks Open-air Stage in Riga. On 15 June 2002, the EBU Reference Group decided in conjunction with the organisational task force in Latvia that Riga would host the 2003 contest with the venue option between the Skonto Hall and Ķīpsala International Exhibition Centre being decided upon by LTV. LTV ultimately chose the Skonto Hall as the venue to stage the contest.

Key: Riga   Host venue  Ventspils  Shortlisted

City Venue Notes
Jūrmala Dzintari Concert Hall
Riga Mežaparks Open-air Stage
Skonto Hall Riga
Ķīpsala International Exhibition Centre Ventspils
Ventspils Ventspils Olympic Center

2.Format. The EBU released the rules for the 2003 contest in November 2002, which detailed that twenty-six countries would participate, making it the largest number of participants to take part in the contest up to this point. The rules also modified the eligibility criteria for entries, changing the date of release cut-off point for songs from 1 January 2003 to 1 October 2002. There was also a change in the tie-break rule, which would now resolve such a case in favour of the nation that received points from a higher number of countries rather than taking into account the number of top scores (12 points) received. The draw for running order was held on 29 November 2002 in Riga, hosted by Marie N and Renārs Kaupers, with the results being revealed during a delayed broadcast of the proceedings later that day.

The official sponsors for the contest were Latvian mobile telecom provider Latvijas Mobilais Telefons and Latvian bank company Parex Banka.[11] LTV selected Latvia Tours as its official partner to provide lodging, travel and recreation for the contest delegations and other guests. Riga City Council was also responsible for offering promotion and activities during the week preceding the contest.

Full preparations for the 2003 contest began on 18 May 2003 at the Skonto Hall. There were rehearsals, press conferences and participants were also involved in an internet chat. Two dress rehearsals were held on 23 May, in front of an estimated 12,000 people. The organisers of the contest held a press conference; one of the issues complained about was the lack of invitations for the after-party. The final dress rehearsal was held on 24 May, the day of the contest. A simulation of the voting procedure was also held, in which the presenters linked up with all twenty-six countries by satellite for the first time.

The contest featured special guests that communicated with the hosts via satellite: Lys Assia, winner of the 1956 contest greeted the hosts and spectators from Nicosia, Elton John spoke to the presenters live from the Life Ball in Vienna and one astronaut and one cosmonaut—Ed Lu and Yuri Malenchenko—gave their greetings from the International Space Station. The interval act for the contest was a short film directed by Anna Viduleja that featured a sequence of performances by Latvian post-folklore group Iļģi, Renārs Kaupers’ band Brainstorm, Marie N and piano player Raimonds Pauls.

On the day of the contest, bookmaker William Hill’s odds placed Russia as joint favourites to win the contest with Spain. Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia, Norway and Iceland were behind in third, fourth and joint fifth respectively. At the conclusion of the contest, favourites Russia placed third and Spain placed eighth, while outsiders Turkey (20-1) and Belgium (50-1) claimed the first and second places, respectively. Austria, at 100–1, were favourites to finish last, however, they scored their best result since 1989, placing sixth.

An official compilation album, featuring all twenty-six competing entries from the contest, was released for the first time on the EMI/CMC label.

2.1.Graphic design. The design of the contest was built around the theme “Magical rendez-vous”, which represented the meeting of the various European nations coming to Latvia and encountering Latvia’s versatile landscapes. LTV launched a competition in order to find the logo for the contest. At the close of the competition, high interest from the public translated into 204 logo submissions, which were ultimately judged by a jury panel consisting of Uldis-Ivars Grava (general director of LTV), Arvīds Babris (then executive producer of the contest), Ugis Brikmanis (director), Laimonis Šteinbergs (artist), Ingūna Rībena (architect), Arta Giga (LTV representative) and Juhan Paadam (EBU representative). On 16 November 2002, LTV and the EBU presented the logo for the contest which was designed by the director of the Computer Graphics Department of LTV, Maris Kalve with further elaboration by LTV’s chief artist Kristaps Skulte. The logo was named upes, the Latvian word for rivers, and carried the slogan “All rivers flow toward the sea, all songs flow toward the Eurovision Song Contest”.

The postcards shown between the entries were directed by Ugis Brikmanis and featured the artists competing at the contest interacting with Latvia’s various landscapes: forests, rivers, lakes and towns. The postcards were recorded during the preceding week of the contest and ran behind schedule, leading to some postcards featuring only footage from the rehearsals and press conferences.

The stage design was created by Aigars Ozoliņš and based on the concept called Planet Latvia. The stage used several light and video effects and included an innovation new to the contest – a video screen stage floor that could be used to give each entry a unique look. The green room where the delegations and competitors awaited the results of the contest was placed directly behind the stage and unveiled shortly before the voting portion of the show commenced, allowing the audience to view the representatives of the competing nations as they received points.

2.2.National host broadcaster. Initially, Arvīds Babris, head of the Latvian delegation at the 2002 contest, was appointed as executive producer for the contest, however, after production fell behind schedule and the EBU applied pressure upon LTV, he was dismissed and Brigita Rozenbrika took over the position, receiving additional support from the Swedish broadcaster Sveriges Television (SVT) and Estonian broadcaster Eesti Televisioon (ETV). SVT was also the technical producer of the contest for the second year running with Sven Stojanovic as director and the Swedish lighting company Spectra+ contracted for the contest.

2.3.Voting system. The EBU reintroduced televoting as an obligatory voting mode in all participating countries, which awarded 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12 points to their ten favourite songs, in ascending order. Countries voted in the same order as they had performed. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russia were granted an exception to holding a televote as they cited that their telecommunications penetration was less than 80%. Polish broadcaster Telewizja Polska opted to use only SMS-voting. In the televoting/smsvoting household shall not be permitted to vote more than three times. All other countries planned to use a televote. This contest was also the first to introduce a computer-generated scoreboard which rearranged itself in order as the points were awarded. Broadcasters were required to assemble back-up juries that consisted of eight voting members, with age and gender equally distributed, in the case of televote failure on the night of the competition. Four members of the jury had to be members of the general public and the other four members had to be music professionals.

2.4.Future changes in contest format. With the increased number of potential participating countries, the EBU began to review the format of the contest with potential changes being considered such as adding extra evenings for the show, holding a regional pre-selection, or putting a limit to number of participating countries by increasing the entrance fee. On 29 January 2003, the EBU unveiled a two-night system for the contest in 2004: a semi-final would be held before a grand final. The “Big Four”, along with the top ten from the 2003 contest, would automatically qualify for the 2004 final. The format change eliminated the relegation system, allowing all countries to send an artist and song to the contest. The fourteen eventual countries from the 2003 contest that qualified to compete directly in the 2004 final were Turkey, Belgium, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Poland, Spain, Iceland, Romania, Ireland, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. All other countries would have to compete in the semi-final for ten remaining spots in the final.

3.Participating countries. Twenty-four countries participated in the 2002 contest in Tallinn; of these, fourteen were expected to compete in 2003. The bottom ten in Tallinn would be relegated, to allow countries to compete for the first time. In reality, only five countries were relegated – nineteen countries that entered in 2002 competed in Riga. Macedonia, Finland, Switzerland, Lithuania and Denmark were forced to sit out the contest. The nineteen qualifiers were joined by the six countries that had sat out the 2002 contest: Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Portugal. The twenty-sixth contestant was Ukraine, making its debut at the contest.

Originally, Serbia and Montenegro, Albania, Belarus and Bulgaria had planned 2003 debuts, but the EBU’s late changes to the relegation procedure meant that they could not compete. The first three countries eventually made their debuts in 2004, while Bulgaria did debut in 2005. RTBF was the Belgian broadcaster at the forty-eighth contest, marking the first Walloon entry since 2000. Twenty-six entries was the highest number in the final of the contest’s history at that point; subsequently equalled nine years later in 2012 and then beaten in 2015, when twenty-seven countries participated in the final that year.

The draw for the running order took place in December 2002 in Riga: Iceland would open the contest and Slovenia would complete it.

The UK’s result was their worst-ever at Eurovision; by contrast, Turkey’s win was their first. Alf Poier’s sixth place was Austria’s best result for fourteen years, Poland’s seventh place was their best in nine, and Romania’s tenth place was one place behind their best-ever. Belgium’s second place was their first top-five finish in seventeen years, but Latvia’s third-from-bottom finish was their worst result in four attempts; it was also the worst placing for a host country since 1992, until 2015 when host country Austria received ‘nul points’ and came second to last (Germany also received ‘nul points’ but because of the running order Austria placed ahead of them).

3.1.Participants and results. The 2003 contest was one of the few editions where no lead artists had previously competed as lead artists in past contests, although Slovenian representative Karmen had previously performed as a backing singer to Vili Resnik for Slovenia at the 1998 contest.

4.4.All the national selections for Eurovision Song Contest 2003:

• National Selections in 2003: