Eurovision Goes Global
Australia to Contest 2015 Eurovision Song Contest Final
In news announced just moments ago, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) have confirmed that Australia will compete for the first time at the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna on May 23rd. As part of the 60th Anniversary spectacle, Australia (a country further from Europe than any other participating nation) will have the opportunity to compete with the added provision that should they win, they can participate every year thereafter.
SBS will be the official Australian Broadcaster and participant in Vienna at the 60th Eurovision Song Contest. They have become increasingly involved in broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest in Australia and made this announcement today. The news is likely to divide opinion throughout the Eurovision Fan Community on many levels. Should it have been announced that it is a one-time-only entrant unless it wins, does the time difference have an effect, will all European countries have to compete in Australia 2016 if they win and would this price some of Europe’s poorer countries out of the competition? This might be a slightly more controversial and potentially problematic twist than Eurovision organisers have thought through. SBS Australia have published the following video announcement:
The news might be seen as a PR coup for the Eurovision Song Contest, which has been broadcast in Australia for over 30 years. Australians Olivia Newton John and Gina G have both represented the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest (finishing 3rd in 1974 and 8th in 1996 respectively), and the lead singer of German band Texas Lightning competed in 2006. Yet, for a competition that relies on 50% televoting that takes place in the earlier hours of the morning in Australia, this has serious issues when it comes to a fair and unbiased vote. Whilst the jury vote makes up 50% of the score each country gives, if the televoting in each country doesn’t hit a minimum quota, the jury score becomes the countries full voting card.
This has already provided scrutiny for smaller countries where the Eurovision Song Contest jury vote is more likely to carry full rather than half weight and means an Australian jury might be targeted more than most for biased or bought votes. There has been a great deal of work to remove political and neighbourly voting from the Contest in recent years, and whilst Australia has little political imbalance with other competing countries and more than big enough distance to worry about neighbourly voting, the main problem regarding televoting is the diaspora vote. Should the televote go ahead in Australia, countries such as the UK and Germany might expect a disproportionately high vote from Australia – though fans might claim that these are two countries that lose out from diaspora voting until now.
The stipulation that Australia can join permanently should they win, might also cause an unfairly high number of votes from the public based on their love of the Australian music scene and potential to see artists like Kylie Minogue, Air Supply, ACDC, Nathalie Imbruglia, Guy Sebastian, INSX (minus Michael Hutchence), Jess Malboy (last year’s Eurovision Interval act) and the like coming to the Contest in future years.
Michael Ebeid, Managing Director of broadcaster SBS, says: “We are very excited to have secured this historic opportunity for Australia to be represented on the world’s biggest stage at the 60th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest and are honoured that the European Broadcasting Union has supported us to achieve this ambition. SBS has been broadcasting Eurovision for over 30 years and we have seen how Australians’ love of the song contest has grown during those years.”
ORF Director General Dr. Alexander Wrabetz says: “The song contest has developed in its history to become the biggest TV entertainment event in the world. With the participation of Australia, together with our partners at the EBU and SBS, we have succeeded to lift it to a new global level and to build another bridge for the 60th anniversary. A bridge that spans the globe, starting from the heart of Europe.”
Australia will be allowed to vote in both Semi-Finals, as well as the Grand Final. Along a professional jury, possibilities are currently being explored to allow the public to have a 50 percent stake in the Australian vote via televoting.
It will be interesting to see if SBS sign up a big Australian local talent or have managed to secure a mainstream artist from the European music scene such as Kylie Minogue, sister Dannii, Darren Hayes or Natalie Imbruglia to attempt to win a permanent place at the Eurovision Song Contest in future years.
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