The Eurovision Song Contest represents the greatest global show along with the Olympic Games and the World Football Championship. For 53 years now the ESC has been the most watched television format with more than 200 million viewers even from the countries such as Australia, Canada, the USA and India that do not participate in the ESC.
The first Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lugano, on May 24th 1956. Lys Assia won the Grand Prix for Switzerland. Seven countries, each performing two songs, participated in the first ESC. It was, at the same time, the only contest broadcast only via radio.
RAIFFEISEN BANK - THE ESC 2008 PRESENTING SPONSOR
Raiffeisen bank via its owner Raiffeisen International Bank-Holding AG is the presenting sponsor of the 53rd Eurovision Song Contest. Since Raiffeisen is one of the leading banking groups in Central and Eastern Europe, supporting the Eurovision Song Contest is an excellent opportunity to build up communication with existing clients, who number more than 13 million.
""We consider the Eurovision Song Contest a very popular event in Central and Eastern Europe that addresses a wide range of existing and potential customers across the region"", said Michael Palzer, Head of Communications of Raiffeisen International.
â€œRaiffeisen bank decided to sponsor the Eurovision Song Contest because this offers Serbia and Belgrade the possibility to be presented in a very positive light, which is truly deserved, and this many people may not be familiar with. It is also an opportunity for people to get to know the local hospitality and openness, as well as to present an even better image of Serbia, which I myself have had the chance to experience during the seven years I spent hereâ€, stated Oliver Roegl, Chairman of the Managing Board of Raiffeisen bank.
A record number of countries â€“ 43 will take part this year.
Azerbaijan and San Marino will be welcomed to the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time.
For the first time in the ESC history two semifinals will be organized.
On this yearâ€™s Eurovision Song Contest, the jubilary 1,100th song will be performed.
The Grand Finals will be held on May 24, the very date the first Eurovision Song Contest was held 52 years ago.
The following countries will be represented in the second Semi-Final, on Thursday, 22 May: Croatia, Denmark, Bulgaria, Portugal, Ukraine, Switzerland, FYR Macedonia, Iceland, Cyprus, Latvia, Belarus, Hungary, Albania, Sweden, Turkey, Lithuania, Georgia and Czech Republic.