The Eurovision Song Contest has pushed geographical boundaries for years already, reaching as far as Australia and Canada. But, with a mainstream rebroadcasting of the 2013 shows scheduled in China, its fan base may be about to take the biggest leap yet.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV will be showing the 2013 contest in its entirety, including the semi-finals, on 5th, 6th and 7th October. The shows will be aired on its music channel CCTV-15, which is a variety channel bringing popular music of all genres to screens across the country of 1.3 billion people.
Clearly, the potentially huge new audience is something for the EBU to be excited about, and Executive Supervisor of the contest, Jon Ola Sand, does not hide that excitement. “We hope that this is the beginning of an annual tradition, and that the Eurovision Song Contest will eventually also become China’s favourite TV-show” he explains at Eurovision.tv. Whether or not the grandiose ambition to top the TV lists succeeds, it is nonetheless a great opportunity for even more international exposure for Eurovision artists. This can only be a good thing, as it creates more incentive for talented artists to come to the showcase that is the Eurovision Song Contest. Sand concurs: “It creates an amazing opportunity for artists participating in the contest, expanding the enormous potential audience outside of Europe“.
China even has a fledgling fan base ready to start spreading the word. Fan blog China ESC Fans is reporting the announcement with excitement, although there is a note of apprehension when it comes to certain cross-cultural understandings. For instance, how will Krista’s lesbian kiss go down on Chinese screens? It all remains to be seen. But amidst rumours that Emmelie de Forrest may travel to China to endorse the show, the site is full of anticipation and hope for a new Chinese chapter in Eurovision history. In fact, the door had already been opened; notably, Sweden 2012 winner Loreen recently performed at a New Year’s gala in the country.
Learn from experience
It’s a win-win situation for CCTV, an associative member of the EBU, which not only gets a fully-fledged, ready-made music competition to fill its schedule, but also the benefit of experienced programme-making to learn from. This is the hope of Lang Kun, General Supervisor of CCTV-15, whose team is planning to “learn the methods of management and transmission” in large televised events like the Eurovision Song Contest. Perhaps these are the first movements of a future Chinese festival based on the same format. In any case, the EBU will be pleased that its show garners enough respect to serve as a model.