The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) which is the governing body for the Eurovision Song Contest has made new specifications to their rule book, clarifying its position on Associate Members and their eligibility to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest.There have been issues in the past particularly concerning Australia’s eligibility to compete. Australia not have a full membership to the EBU, rather an Associate membership, yet they have been allowed to compete at Eurovision in both 2015 and 2016.
Earlier this week the EBU clarified their stance on this with the new rule stating:
“Associates of the EBU may also be eligible to enter the Eurovision Song Contest, this is decided by the Reference Group, the governing body of the Eurovision Song Contest, on a case by case basis.”
20 countries including Australia, China, USA, Canada, Oman, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Syria and Iran all have associate membership to the EBU and therefore could theoretically put a case forward to the Reference Group to be considered eligible to compete in future song contests. Whether or not they will get the go ahead is an entirely different matter.
Kazakhstan’s Khabar Agency has been an associate member since 2016 and welcomed the news about the clarification of the rules. However in a statement from the broadcaster’s Director General doubted that they would be given the green light to compete any time soon due to the geography of the country and the fact they haven’t a long history of broadcasting the Eurovision:
“Khabar is an associate membership in the EBU since January 1, 2016. During the three years we have been negotiating for membership and how to represent the country in the EBU. Associate membership is not equal because geographically we do not come under their rules, so we have no right to vote and we can not participate in Eurovision, because only full members can participate. But Eurovision Reference Group sometimes makes concessions, as in the case of Australia, for example. The only exception, as we have explained, was due to the fact that they have broadcast the contest for a long time. At this point we are not informed about the participation of Kazakhstan, there is no official confirmation.”
There has been a lot of opposition from some Eurovision fans regarding opening the flood gates and inviting non-European countries to compete at Eurovision. This has particularly been the case when Australia competed for the first time in 2015. At the time this was supposed to be a one off to reward Australia’s dedication to the Contest and to mark the 60 year anniversary of Eurovision. The same fans were then up in arms again when Australia were invited back the following year in 2016.
Despite this, Australia have been very successful in their two outings in the Contest to date with Guy Sebastian’s debut finishing in fifth place and Dami Im’s ‘Sound of Silence’ doing even better finishing second in 2016.
Recent reports have also suggested the piloting of an Oceania/Asian version of the Eurovision Song Contest in the next few years. With this in mind, it may be more the case that many of these countries, specifically the Asian nations, could compete in ‘Asiavision’ instead. Australia has also expressed a keen interest in competing in this Contest when it launches, meaning they may have to give up their place at Eurovision.
What do you think? Should EBU allow some, all or none of the associate members to participate in Eurovision? Should they form their own Asiavision? Would you like to see one guest nation from the pool associate members compete each year?