This discussion started up on another post, covering something else. But for all the world to hear, this is the Becks outlook on the system with the Big 4.
Four countries (France, Germany, Spain and United Kingdom) are always granted a free seat in the final, since their financial contributions to the contest are greater than the other countries. The fact they put in more money is not unfair, though. The participation fee of each country is decided through a mathematical formula that somehow matches the BNP of the country with the number of television license fees paid, and so you come up with an individual fee for everyone.
That is one of the reasons Luxembourg is not coming back for the moment: they have one of the highest BNP:s in the world and would pay a comparatively obsence amount of money to take part in the ESC.
If the any of the Big 4 countries drop out, then it is a serious blow towards the ESC. When Germany was kicked out in the 1996 pre-selection, NRK found themselves with a way tighter budget than anticipated, causing quite some problems for the entire production.
My view on the Big 4 system is simple: if that is what it takes to ensure that the ESC can be staged at all, then I find it a cheap price to pay for it.
But remember - the 20 songs coming from the semi finals have already gone through a first quality control. They were approved of by the viewers already. The Big 4 will have to make a tremendous effort every year to stand a chance in the voting, and so far they haven't really. Germany is trying, France did this year, Spain did on occasion, UK is yet to.
The notion that nobody votes for their songs because they are "jealous of the Big 4" is so paranoid that it would suit the TV news in North Korea or something.