Eurovision Asia spin-off ‘set for launch in 2019’

A long-rumoured Asian spin-off of the Eurovision Song Contest is rumoured for launch in 2019.

Producers of the camp European song contest have long fuelled hopes of a potential spin-off contest, which would invite entries from across Asia.

A report by Australia’s 9News on Tuesday suggests that the contest is set for a launch in December 2019, with the inaugural contest set to be held on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Gold Coast City Council quietly published documents to its website reflecting council preparations for the event.

Under the plan set out in the documents, artists from 16 countries from across the Asia-Pacific region would head to Australia take part in the show, which largely replicates the Eurovision format, culminating in a “three-hour live broadcast of the grand final.”

Israel’s singer Netta Barzilai at Eurovision Song Contest 2018 (FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty)

The event would be held “at Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from 30 November – 7 December 2019.”

The report states: “The inaugural Eurovision Asia Song Contest will be a close replica of the international Eurovision Song Contest. Involving high-profile artists from 16 Asia Pacific countries, the [event] will highlight song writing and performing talent to the region and the world.

“The event will draw on the Eurovision Song Contest’s established rules and codes of competition, showcasing exceptional production values and visual design.”

The report adds that “negotiations are underway with high-profile international performing artists from the Asia Pacific region regarding their interest and involvement in the inaugural event.”

Finland’s Lordi won the contest in 2006 (Johannes Simon/Getty)

Discussions are reportedly “progressing” with countries including China, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

The document states that the confidential plan was discussed in a closed council session (not open to the public), but the report itself has been listed as “non-confidential” on the council website.

An official website for the Eurovision Asia Song Contest was launched in 2017, but plans were postponed after rumoured behind-the-scenes troubles getting countries to sign up.

The plan is yet to be confirmed by Eurovision producers, though the detailed council report even lays out a proposed schedule for the event.

The executive producer of the Eurovision Asia Song Contest, Paul Clark, told Eurovison fan outlet Wiwibloggs that there is “nothing to say at this stage” about the contest plans.

Ireland’s entry for 2018’s Eurovision Song Contest featured same-sex dancers (EBU)

Michael Ebeid, the outgoing director of Australian broadcaster SBS, said earlier this month that “geo-political” issues had hindered the launch of the contest.

He told TV Tonight: “It 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 [another project].

“It’s more in our control and continent, whereas trying to get 10 Asian countries to agree has proven really difficult.”

Eurovision has heavily featured LGBT+ contestants in recent years. The report states that Eurovision Asia will reflect the existing contest values of “multiculturalism, inclusivity and diversity,” however, several Asian countries still maintain strict rules restricting broadcast of LGBT+ content.

The TV network that broadcasts Eurovision in China had its rights to air the contest terminated in 2018 after censoring a same-sex dance routine. Censors in Malaysia and Indonesia have also clamped down on LGBT+ content.

Australia has competed in the Eurovision Song Contest since 2015 due to the massive fan following the contest has in the country. There is no specific geographic requirement to enter Eurovision, which also features entrants from Israel, Azerbaijan and formerly Morocco.

In addition to Eurovision Asia, producers previously pitched a US spin-off featuring artists representing the 50 American states.