It’s the Asia-Pacific Eurovision spin-off that’s been under development for almost two and a half years. But now it seems organisers are no closer to staging the debut of the Eurovision Song Contest Asia. The EBU has confirmed to fan media that ESC Asia is “still early in the development process”.
Despite speculation that the Asia-Pacific version of the song contest would debut in October 2018, the EBU has confirmed that the contest organisers are still developing the concept. Speaking to fan site ESCXTRA, an EBU spokesperson issued the following statement:
“Work on bringing the Eurovision Song Contest to Asia is still ongoing and EBU are working closely with the organisers to help them bring it to fruition. It’s still early in the development process but once the team are at the point they are able to talk about timings we will be sure to make an announcement.”
This news has come as a surprise to many fans, as it was assumed that progress was substantially more advanced.
While the EBU’s statement has not specifically ruled out Eurovision Asia being held in 2018, the news that the contest is still in the development stages seems to rule out the possibility of a contest being held sometime in the next six months, at least.
The long journey of Eurovision Asia
In March 2016, the EBU first confirmed that SBS — the Eurovision broadcaster for Australia — had signed a deal with the European Broadcasting Union to develop and establish a song contest much like Eurovision, but for the Asia-Pacific region.
At the time, it was expected that the inaugural event would be hosted in Australia at some point in 2017.
Later in 2016, SBS’s content chief Helen Kellie confirmed that the broadcaster was looking at a 2017 launch, but said that 2018 was also a strong possibility.
At that point, SBS revealed the hurdles they faced in organising a pan-Asia-Pacific song contest. SBS had been in talks with broadcasters in China, South Korea and Japan. The talks revealed a series of obstacles, including political tensions between the region’s three big music markets. Chinese law prohibits the broadcast or streaming of South Korean pop music and entertainment.
Blink TV also revealed that they had been in talks with representatives from Hong Kong, Sydney and Singapore as potential host cities for the show.
However, in June 2017, a spokesperson for Blink TV shot down any hopes of a 2017 debut. They told Australian media, “The answer is no, it’s not happening until 2018.”
But things were looking positive in August 2017, when the official Eurovision Asia Song Contest website was launched. While no launch date was given for the contest, the site said up to 20 counties would compete in the contest’s debut. Since then, the site has published no further news about the contest and has not been updated since October 2017.
In January this year, Kazakhstan media reported that broadcaster Khabar Agency was in talks with Eurovision Asia organisers regarding participation in the song contest. The Kazakh Ministry of Information and Communications also claimed that Eurovision Asia would be held in October 2018. However, this date was not confirmed by the EBU or Blink TV, and fans have noted that Kazakhstan has previously been a source of unfounded Eurovision rumours.
During Eurovision 2018, things got even more complicated. Chinese broadcaster Mango TV was swiftly banned from broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest after they cut two performances from the first semi-final. Mango TV had blocked Ireland and Albania’s performances, as they respectively showed a same-sex couple and visible tattoos, content not permitted on Chinese television.
This raises the issue of how Eurovision Asia could involve performances from countries with strict broadcasting regulations alongside those with more liberal codes.
Broadcasters from the following countries are said to be interested in participating in Eurovision Asia: Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Maldives, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea and Vanuatu.
What do you think? Are you surprised at the lack of progress with Eurovision Asia? When do you expect the contest will have its debut? Tell us what you think in the comments below!
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