It seems that the world of the Eurovision internet has gone mad over some wording changes on the eurovision.tv website. Major internet players like Wiwibloggs and Eurovoix have decided that the change opens the contest up to the world.
What has happened?
The EBU changed the web page that explains “who can enter the contest” to say the following:
Every year, the invitation to participate in the contest is sent out to all Members. While some of them choose not to take part, most of them do. 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.”
So why is this a big internet deal?
The last bit of the second paragraph has the internet in a twist. Apparently, that now means that China, Brazil, Federated States of Micronesia or anyone on the EBU associate participant list can apply to enter. Cue a massive flurry of articles, like this and this similar looking article
But they are right aren’t they??
Well yes they are right, but this has been the de facto position of the EBU since Australia first entered the contest two years back. The EBU have not actually changed the wording of their rules of participation for the contest. The last public version of the rules explains the entry criteria (rule 1.1.1. – you’ll need this later!).
“A maximum of 46 Active EBU Members shall be allowed to participate (the “Participating Broadcasters”). Active EBU Members from a maximum total of 26 countries shall compete in the Final. There shall be six guaranteed places therein (i.e. one for the producing organization (the “Host Broadcaster”), five EBU Members from France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom). Subject to a decision by the EBU in consultation with the Reference Group, the number of guaranteed places in the Final may be modified depending on circumstances. Apart from the six broadcasters with guaranteed places, all Participating Broadcasters from a maximum of 40 countries shall compete in one of the Semi-Finals for the remaining places in the Final”
So no place for associates like Australia in that then.
So what’s actually going on Phil?
I’m so glad you asked. Basically, the EBU cemented Australia’s place in the contest last November when they invited back Australian broadcaster SBS. At that time, OnEurope engaged in a twitter chat with the EBU. We asked the question that everyone actually wanted answered: “why are they back?” After much conversation, they revealed that the technical reason that Australia was allowed to take part was that e the Reference Committee decided to exempt SBS from the rules. Specifically rule 1.1.1 (the one quoted above).
This isn’t really satisfactory – as people more important than me pointed out. It led to a clarification of the position. The Eurovision Song Contest website makes it very plain and clear that the contest is for European Broadcasting Area participants. They put a couple of European maps prominently on their site. They went to great pains to let the world know Eurovision is a European contest. Rightly so, in my humble opinion.
So will China take part?
There is nothing stopping Hunan Television asking … but reading between the lines, I suspect they the EBU will decline.