Eurovision Song Contest heads East

Asiavision to launch competition with 15 countries

BRUSSELS -- Asia is to hold its own region-wide version of the Eurovision Song Contest next year, with India and China amongst the 15 countries battling for the title, it was announced Thursday.

Asian news sharing network Asiavision has bought the rights for the format from the European Broadcasting Union, the national broadcasters’ association, which has run the Eurovision Song Contest since 1956.

"The format is highly suited to the Asia region and its people who love popular music and have a strong sense of national pride,” said Asiavision CEO Andreas Gerlach. “Like in Europe, the universal language of music will help to bring people closer together.”

The Asiavision contest will involve a six-month regional and national tournament culminating in the grand final broadcast to an expected television audience of 500 million viewers. Confirmed broadcasting territories include China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Eurovision is often dismissed as kitsch and formulaic, and -- barring Abba’s 1974 victory with “Waterloo” -- has failed to unearth emerging talents. It is nonetheless an immensely popular European tradition with more than 40 countries taking part, almost every European public broadcaster involved and television audiences of around 100 million.