The EBU has invited Australia to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest for the very first time. EBU Associate Member SBS (Special Broadcasting Service), who has aired the annual competition for over 30 years, has been asked by the EBU and Austrian host broadcaster ORF to send an entry to Vienna in May to celebrate the Contest’s 60th Anniversary.
“It’s a daring and at the same time incredibly exciting move. It is our way of saying; let’s celebrate this party together!” said Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand.
“At the very heart of the Eurovision Song Contest is the importance of bringing countries together to celebrate diversity, music and culture. We have admired and respected SBS’s support of Eurovision for many years now and wanted to extend the invitation for Australia to join us in this special 60th Anniversary of the Contest. It would be remiss of us to throw the world’s biggest party and not invite our Australian friends, who have such a long history and connection with Eurovision,” he added.
The decision brings the total number of countries taking part in the 60th Eurovision Song Contest to 40.
Australia will compete in the Grand Final on May 23 to ensure that the 33 Semi-Final participants have an equal chance to qualify for the Final. The total number of countries competing in the Grand Final will exceptionally rise in 2015 to 27. Australia will also be allowed to vote in both Semi-Finals, as well as the Grand Final.
Should Australia win the competition, it has been agreed that SBS would co-host the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, together with an EBU Member Broadcaster, in a European city. SBS’s participation is intended as a one-off, but in the event they do win Australia would also be allowed send a participant to the Eurovision Song Contest next year.
Michael Ebeid, Managing Director of EBU Associate Member SBS, said: “We are very excited to have secured this historic opportunity for Australia to be represented on the world’s biggest stage at the 60th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest and are honoured that the European Broadcasting Union has supported us to achieve this ambition. SBS has been broadcasting Eurovision for over 30 years and we have seen how Australians’ love of the Song Contest has grown during those years.”
Dr. Alexander Wrabetz, the Director General of ORF this year’s host broadcaster, is pleased to welcome Australia to Vienna: "The Song Contest has developed over the years to become the biggest TV entertainment event in the world," he said. "With the participation of Australia, together with our partners at the EBU and SBS, we have succeeded in lifting it to a new global level and to build another bridge for the 60th anniversary; a bridge that spans the globe, starting in the heart of Europe."
Last year’s broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest in Australia achieved its highest ratings ever, reaching over 3 million viewers.
Australian singers have participated for other countries in the Eurovision Song Contest in the past. They include Olivia Newton John and Gina G who both represented the UK in 1974 and 1996 and Jane Comerford who was part of Germany’s 2006 entrants Texas Lightning.
The 60th Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Vienna, Austria on May 19, 21 and 23.