This year, the Eurovision Song Contest celebrates its 60th anniversary. To give the anniversary celebrations an extra dimension and to walk the talk on this year’s theme Building Bridges, the EBU and host broadcaster ORF invited Australia to compete in the Grand Final of the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest. This brings the total amount of represented countries to 40.
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The contest’s governing body, the Reference Group, and the EBU’s Television Committee accepted the proposal.
“It’s a daring and at the same time incredibly exciting move. It is our way of saying; let’s celebrate this party together!” says Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor of the contest on behalf of the EBU.
Michael Ebeid, Managing Director of broadcaster SBS, says: "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."
ORF Director General Dr. Alexander Wrabetz says: "The song contest has developed in its history to become the biggest TV entertainment event in the world. With the participation of Australia, together with our partners at the EBU and SBS, we have succeeded to lift it to a new global level and to build another bridge for the 60th anniversary. A bridge that spans the globe, starting from the heart of Europe."
Australia will be allowed to vote in both Semi-Finals, as well as the Grand Final. Along a professional jury, possibilities are currently being explored to allow the public to have a 50 percent stake in the Australian vote via televoting.
What does this mean?
Broadcaster SBS, which has a long tradition of airing the Eurovision Song Contest in Australia, will send a contestant to Vienna, where the 2015 contest will take place. Their contestant, who is yet to be chosen, will participate directly in the Grand Final under exactly the same conditions as all other participants.
Can Australia vote? And can we vote for Australia?
Despite the time difference – it’s early Sunday morning in Australia while Europe watches the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday evening – the EBU’s international voting partner Digame is exploring possibilities to allow the Australian public to vote in both Semi-Finals and in the Grand Final. Viewers in all other 39 participating countries also have the possibility to vote for the Australian contestant. As usual, no one can vote for his or her own country.
Why does Australia take part directly in the Grand Final, and not in one of the two Semi-Finals?
To not reduce the chances of the current Semi-Final participants to make it to the Grand Final and because of the one-off nature of Australia’s participation, it was decided to add the country to the Grand Final, bringing the total amount of participants to 27, along with 10 qualifiers from each Semi-Final, host country Austria, and the so-called Big Five (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom).
What if Australia wins? Would the contest take place down under?
No. In case Australia wins, SBS will co-host the Eurovision Song Contest in a European city, together with an EBU Member Broadcaster. Their participation is intended as a one-off, but in case of a victory, Australia will be allowed send a participant to the Eurovision Song Contest next year.
Could Australia or other countries outside of Europe take part in the Eurovision Song Contest in the future?
Australia’s Eurovision Song Contest participation is a one-off initiative. But throughout its 60 years of development, new elements have been introduced to keep the Eurovision Song Contest exciting, surprising and relevant to the spirit of time. Who knows what the future will bring, as excitement about this European tradition spreads to other countries around the world?
How and when will Australia choose its participant?
It is up to broadcaster SBS in Australia to decide how they wish to select their entry for Vienna. They will have to do so – like all other participating broadcasters – before the 16th of March, when all entries have to be submitted to the EBU.
Why Australia, and not other countries?
Australia has a long tradition of broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest and a loyal fan base watching the event every year. Broadcaster SBS from Australia is also an Associate Member of the EBU.