Asia tunes up its own song contest

Local version of Eurovision Contest in works

HONG KONG — An Asian version of the cloying but enduringly popular Eurovision Song Contest is in the works.

But organizers have a long way to go before the mooted Asiavision Song Contest takes to the air in August — and may even have to change its name.

Format rights were licensed by the European Broadcast Union to Asiavision, a Singapore company that has backing from German private equity sources.

As with its European cousin, broadcasters from 15 Asian countries including India and China, will hold knock-out competitions to choose a pop song to represent their country.

These songs will be performed at a gala broadcast live and a jury of voters drawn from each country competing will pick the winner (although they can’t vote for their own country’s song).

Asiavision says it has letters of intent with networks in several key territories but it hasn’t yet signed any or won over the EBU’s sister org, the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union.

“It is certainly a very ambitious project of the kind that the ABU would be interested in working with, though there will be no decision from us before November,” said ABU general secretary David Astley.

There is a potential clash over the Asiavision name, which is also the name of the satellite news exchange service that ABU has operated for 25 years, Astley said.

China, Singapore, Malaysia and Macau have been shortlisted as candidates to host the first edition of the song contest. But a decision is months away and may depend on political as well as commercial considerations.

Working in a similar vein, Fotini Paraskakis of FremantleMedia Singapore, recently said producing  six-country talent show “Asian Idol” was the hardest job she’s taken on in her career.

“Everyone simply votes for their own country’s song,” she said last month at the Broadcast Worldwide confab in Seoul.

Show eventually worked around that problem by making TV viewers send SMS messages with two votes. “But even so, it doesn’t mean the best singer is guaranteed to rise to the top,” she said.

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