Melodifestivalen (Swedish pronunciation: [mɛlʊ²dːfɛstiːˌvɑːlɛn]; literally "The Melody Festival") is an annual music competition organised by Swedish public broadcasters Sveriges Television (SVT) and Sveriges Radio (SR). It determines the country's representative for the Eurovision Song Contest, and has been staged almost every year since 1959. Since 2000, the competition has been the most popular television programme in Sweden; it is also broadcast on radio and the Internet. In 2012, the semifinals averaged 3.3 million viewers, and over an estimated four million people in Sweden watched the final, almost half of the Swedish population. The festival has produced six Eurovision winners and eighteen top-five placings for Sweden at the contest. The winner of the Melodifestival has been chosen by panels of jurors since its inception. Since 1999, the juries have been joined by a public telephone vote which has an equal influence over the final outcome. The competition makes a considerable impact on music charts in Sweden. The introduction of semifinals in 2002 raised the potential number of contestants from around twelve to thirty-two. A children's version of the competition, Lilla Melodifestivalen, also began that year.
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