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ABU Still Looking To Hold Inaugural Regional Song Contest

With the news that Australia’s SBS has given up on organising the Eurovision Asia Song Contest, we now turn to new opportunities for a regional musical competition.

In 2019, the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) announced the inaugural edition of the ABU Song Contest would take place in April 2020 in China. Distinct from the non-competitive ABU TV Song Festival, the ABU Song Contest was set to be a bigger and more complex affair modelled closely on the Eurovision Song Contest. Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic thwarted these plans and left the fate of the Song Contest project in doubt.

Now, in a statement to Eurovision New Zealand, the ABU has confirmed that it still intends to hold the inaugural Contest and is actively assessing the possibility of a reinvigoration in 2021. Yasu Nagahata, Director of ABU Programming, acknowledged that “the ABU had planned to hold the ABU Song Contest in 2020” but noted that they “were not able to deliver this event due to the COVID situation in the region and in our host country,”.

Asked about the future of the Contest, Mr. Nagahata revealed that the ABU has not sunsetted plans for the project.

“We are currently monitoring the situation of COVID 19 in our region to see whether we can run this event in 2021,” Nagahata said.

The ABU TV Song Festival 2015, held in Turkey and hosted by TRT.

With the scale and size of the Asia-Pacific region, it is estimated that the Contest could reach up to two billion people—far eclipsing the reach of the Eurovision Song Contest. For this reason, the ABU sees the Song Contest as critical to their mission and vision for the organisation and its membership.

In the lead-up to the 2020 contest, several national broadcasters confirmed or expressed their interest in participating in the competition. These countries included Thailand, Turkey, Brunei, Indonesia, Vietnam and host country China, among others.

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