EXCLUSIVE: Australia will compete in the Eurovision Song Contest for the 5th time, in Tel Aviv in May 2019.
Outgoing SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid confirmed the news to TV Tonight, saying “100% yes.”
But SBS will soon announce plans to shake up the artist selection process with partners Blink TV. Is Australia about to embrace public voting, similar to the UK’s Eurovision: You Decide showcase?
“I would love to get Australians more involved in selecting our artist”
“We’ve been doing it this way for 5 years and we’re looking at how we can up the ante and mix it up a little bit,” he said.
“It’s safe to say we will be announcing something in the next month or so. We’re putting some finishing touches on some plans at the moment.
“I would love to get Australians more involved in selecting our artist to represent us. We don’t have the money to do The Voice or Australia’s Got Talent, and it wouldn’t work with an emerging artist.
“But we are looking to do something a bit different with some experienced artists.”
All 4 previous entrants, Guy Sebastian, Dami Im, Isaiah Firebrace and Jessica Mauboy, have been talent show graduates, and all 4 through Sony Music.
“Every year we absolutely scour all the record labels. We actually came very close to going with Universal last year. But at the end of the day what I look for is best artist possible, and not the record label. Sony has just happened each year to put forward the best person possible,” Ebeid explained.
“It’s a hell of a lot of pressure and we’ve seen a lot of people freeze on stage when they get up there. There’s 14,000 people in the auditorium and 200 million at home. So you need someone with the experience to get out there and own the stage, with a machine behind them of choreographers, set designers, costume and a record label,” says Ebeid.
“It’s just proven too geo-politically difficult.”
But Ebeid also acknowledges plans for an Asia Pacific Eurovision, originally due to be staged in 2017, have proved challenging.
“It’s probably been my one disappointment. I would have liked to have made more progress on that. It’s just proven too geo-politically difficult.
“We are still talking to a few of the countries but we have put all our energy into this other idea we’re planning to announce soon. It’s more in our control and continent, whereas trying to get 10 Asian countries to agree has proven really difficult.
“We haven’t given up on the idea, but once we get past this next announcement we will go back to working on it.”