Having established a reputation of the highest-profile song show, the Song Contest, frequently simply referred to as Eurovision, claims to have a television audience of approximately one billion. According to the basic structure of Eurovision, any member of the European Broadcasting Union may participate in the show, performing a song in the order that is predetermined by drawing lots.
At the end of the contest a ten-minute interval follows, allowing the countries to collect and tabulate their votes. A running total is then displayed on the scoreboard. The contest final features 24 songs with each country performing one song. There exist no restrictions on the nationality of performers, which have resulted in some of the countries being represented by performers, who are not their nationals. During the period of 1956-1965 no restriction on language existed, until the artists were required to perform in their national language.
In 1999 the restriction was removed again, allowing songs to be performed in any language. Consequently, the majority of the songs are performed in English. Some cases feature lyrics written in two different languages, usually English and national. As for the voting, every country ranks all the entries, assigning from 12 to 1 point to its favorites. Hosting the Eurovision Song Show is seen as a great honor, given to the winning country of the previous year. Though host countries are believed to experience financial difficulties, much of the expense is covered by sponsors of the Contest and contributors from participating countries. In addition, a host country is seen as a prominent tourist destination.
Cases occur when the host country wins for two successive years. This first happened in Spain in 1969, followed by such winning hosts as Luxemburg (1973), Israel (1979) and Ireland (1993). Ireland is the only country to have won Eurovision for three subsequent years -- in 1992, 1993 and 1994. Throughout the history of the Song Show, Ireland won seven times, holding thus a winning record. The United Kingdom holds a record for hosting Eurovision for most times: in 1960, 1963, 1968, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1982 and 1988.
Nations participating in the Contest usually use a variety of methods to select their entries. The recent years have witnessed more countries using the reality show method of choosing the singing entrants and the song. As of 2004, twelve of the countries participants of the Eurovision Song Show were winners of the reality show. Such countries as Greece, Turkey and Ukraine use more successful method, with the national broadcaster selecting one singer and songs for which the public votes.
The Eurovision 2006 will be held at the Olympic Indoor Music Hall in Athens, Greece with the scheduled dates 18 May for the semi-final and 20 May for the final. Following the symbol of Istanbul "Under the Same Sky" and that of Kyiv "Awakening", the 2006 Show will be held under the slogan "Feel the Rhythm". This theme will also dominate on the postcards, which will primarily emphasize the historical significance of Greece, as well as its status of a popular tourist destination.