Since the EBU’s announcement back in July this year that the Eurovision Asia Song Contest was still “early in the development process”, serious doubt was cast as to whether the contest would make its planned 2018 debut.
Outgoing Australian broadcaster SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid has now confirmed that organising the contest is proving “too geo-politically difficult”, with the broadcaster in charge of organising the inaugural event putting the idea on the back-burner.
In an interview with Australian television blog TV Tonight, Ebeid says that SBS are now focusing on Australia’s participation at Eurovision in 2019, with a new selection process rumoured to be announced within the next month.
“(Eurovision Asia has) probably been my one disappointment. I would have liked to have made more progress on that. It’s just proven too geo-politically difficult. We are still talking to a few of the countries but we have put all our energy into this other idea we’re planning to announce soon. It’s more in our control and continent, whereas trying to get 10 Asian countries to agree has proven really difficult.”
Plans for the contest to be staged have not been thrown out completely, with Ebeid saying that work on Eurovision Asia will continue after Australia’s imminent announcement regarding Australia’s plans for Eurovision 2019:
“We haven’t given up on the idea (of Eurovision Asia), but once we get past this next announcement we will go back to working on it.”
The EBU announced back in July this year that plans for the Eurovision Asia Song Contest were still “early”, casting doubt on whether the planned 2018 debut would eventuate. Back in July 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.”
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 disappointed that Eurovision Asia is looking less likely to make a debut this year? Would you like to see the contest go ahead? Let us know in the comments below!
Read more news on Eurovision Asia here
Eurovision spin-offs (besides Eurovision events) ranked: 1) Caribbean Music Festival – It’s so chill! It’s fun and tropical and big on emphasizing Caribbean unity. 2) AfriMusic Song Contest – A neat idea. I haven’t heard many of the songs that competed this year but it’s really cool-sounding. Apparently the winner even performed in the Eurovision Village in Lisbon! 3) Festival OTI – Better in concept than in execution, I’d say. Some really good songs over its history but not as many as Eurovision. Would like a comeback for it. 4) ABU TV Song Festival – I like the idea of… Read more »
Can they just kick China out? I mean, aside from the K-pop ban, their music isn’t really much worth listening. It would have been fine if it was the ASEAN, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Oceanic nations, Hawaii, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Kazakhstan competing.
Hawaii would be neat since it isn’t an independent country.
Yes Hawaii would be neat since I’m from Hawaii and I’m a Eurovision fan. I’ve thought a lot about a 50 state concept of Eurovision having Hawaiian style music compete against Texas country or Southern Bluegrass. I also thought of if there was enough participation Hawaii having a selection process as a mini-melfest with a semi on each island. One could wish we could someday participate, we almost symbolically participated when a local guy sung with a Slovenian girl at EMA 2017.
Oh. My. God. Can’t they just start with small numbers of participating countries instead of relying with these “powerful Asian countries”? Starting the contest with problems like this is not an easy way to earn and spend funds (the 3 countries are the riches in Asia, obvs, so they are equivalent to the big 5 of Eurovision) and achieve success if you are not familiarizing with the people you’re involving with in the first place, and that’s a dead end already. They are pulling an all-in right away and now look at what’s happening. So please remember how the original… Read more »
Maybe they could make an Oceaniavision instead? I mean Eurovision Asia would be so much cooler, but Oceaniavision might be more doable.
Why are they so complicated? Doing Eurovision Africa or Eurovision Americas (that is to say, a revival of long-gone OTI Festival) would have been MUCH easier.
The comgeniality mindset among Asian countries is not exactly the same if compared to European countries: The UK would not start a war if France didn’t give them douze points (I’m exaggerating).
An OTI revival would be wonderful if the songs were better (OTI was always fun, but very few songs were on a Eurovision level). And hey, Spain would be doing well at something again! And maybe they could get countries and territories like Andorra involved. (Also couldn’t they technically add countries with Spanish-speaking minorities like France or Israel since they allowed countries like Canada to compete?)
Yeah, you’re right! Besides, in some of its editions OTI had the Netherlands Antilles and Equatorial Guinea (an African Spanish-speaking country) participating. I recall the powerhouses at OTI were Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Puerto Rico and perhaps Venezuela. Chile was well-known for sending unusual entries that didn’t follow trends (although they won and hosted OTI twice).
Mexico was like the Sweden of OTI with a big Melodifestivalen-esque selection show. Brazil was interesting cuz it won once with a song in Spanish, as all the competitors had to send songs in Spanish that year. There’s also a ton of Eurovision overlap (plenty with Spain and Portugal, of course, plus one winner – the Netherlands Antilles’ Efrem Benita, who twenty years later would rebrand as Dave Benton and help bring Estonia victory). And unlike Eurovision, I can actually root for my own country (the USA won twice!). So Chile would kind of be like the Finland or Hungary?… Read more »
(Pardon, the term would actually be Judaeo-Spanish)
I’m not surprised at all, but I still had a spark of hope. Sad news.
It can’t work either way. Asian countries hate each other. the Muslim countries would just vote for one another and win this every year. Japan won’t vont for China won’t vote for Korea won’t vote for India won’t vote for Pakistan etc.
Sad to hear about China’s law against Korean media but I reckon they should push forward without them. South Korea and Japan should be enough. Once this contest grows, they’ll start to change their ways like Russia and participate.
Also no China = progressive Taiwan is in. Two problems solved.
And Hong Kong!
In other words “We’re waiting till we aren’t invited back to Eurovision to make Eurovision Asia happen” ?
Funny that the claim that organising Eurovision Asia is too hard comes at the same time that Australia is looking more and more like a regular participant at Eurovision. When they are all but guaranteed a place at Eurovision, there’s no incentive to organise Eurovision Asia.
7. Hong Kong
8. South Korea
12. Sri Lanka
19. East Timor
21. New Zealand
Whew, make THIS happen please!
You need to double-check your list because some of the countries you mentioned are Muslim-majority.
Only these, but they don’t have any petty bans and repressive laws. I excluded Tajikistan and Turkmenistan because of this.
Do you have an idea of what it’s like at all before judging it because of its geographical position? It’s nothing like its Arab neighbors.
There’s a difference between “what the government claims” and “what really is”.
Not to mention that things have changed a lot after 2011. If you want an Arab country in the Middle East that is really moving forward, then you should invite Jordan.
Technically, Jordan can compete in Eurovision. They’re in the EBU. I don’t think they’re as anti-Israel as they were back in the ’70s (with the infamous ignoring of Israel’s win in favor of pretty flowers).
No China and Indonesia?
Oh I don’t wanna stan those -stan countries.
I mean, did they lie? Malaysia, Indonesia and all the other Muslim countries plus China would demand to ban too many things (gays, tattoos, and everything else “haram”). The ideal contest would exclude these countries and only include the ones civilized for Western standards, but it would be ~discriminatory~ and ~Islamophobic~ for the SJWs so it can’t happen.
What’s interesting is that the ABU Song Festival has been going on for a while and they’ll let pretty much any Asian-Pacific countries in, like Iraq, Myanmar, and Afghanistan.
So true. Indonesia blurred Sandy’s body part for wearing a bikini in Spongebob Squarepants. They blurred cow’s breasts as well. Men’s nipples are also blurred. The TV censorship policy of Indonesia is getting ridiculous these days.
Indonesia is an unfortunate example of a country that’s regressing instead of progressing (along with Malaysia and Brunei). Ten years ago it wasn’t like this over there – head scarves among young girls weren’t very widespread whereas now it’s the norm, and they’ve passed so many repressive Sharia-based laws and the censorship is over the moon. “Indonesian Islam” was always very relaxed, now they’ve imported the fundamentalist Arabian version and for some reason the society accepted it (I don’t know the dynamics in detail)… it’s just very unfortunate.
What about the Europeans that welcome head scarves in Europe? I would never wear anything on my head, not even in winter, only hair.
That’s their own decision, as long as they don’t cover their face (burqas and niqabs should be illegal for every reason) they don’t bother anyone.
Sounds like the only problem country is China, how about we just exclude China for this year 🙂
You forgot the Muslim-majority nations (minus the Central Asian countries).
They literally compiled a list of gays in Tajikistan and persecuted them. Plus Turkmenistan is one of the most repressive dictatorships in the world, and one of the hardest countries to enter (they get 8,000 tourists per year). Asia is still too diverse to pull off a show with the mindset of the Eurovision, unless there’s SEVERAL compromises that aren’t going to make everyone happy it’s not going to work.
To be honest, I’m not entirely surprised. Culturally and politically, the Asia-Pacific region is a lot more diverse than Europe. And considering how political tensions and stark cultural differences can at times be a complete sh*tshow at Eurovision, it was always to be expected that it would be a lot worse when they decided to try and make an Asian version.
A lot more diverse than Europe ? We are used to it now but I don’t see much in common in culture between Swedes and Greeks or Portuguese and Ukrainians, Irish and Georgians, French and Estonians… let’s not forget Europe was a constant battlefield for centuries. I don’t see how Asia wouldn’t be able to pull this off if Europe could only a decade after WW2… where there’s a will there’s a way.
But it took almost fourty years before countries like Poland and Hungary started to take part. Asia still has communist countries and more diversity in religions.
Not a shock, but a shame. Let’s cross our fingers for 2019. On the other hand, I am very excited for the big Eurovision-related announcement.
They confirmed for ESC 2019 Hallelujah!