With Eurovision enthusiasm reaching a fever pitch here in Israel, Australian Ambassador Chris Cannan opened his residence for an informative discussion by Dr Vuletic: “Why are Australia and Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest?” Guests included diplomatic friends, representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, members of Eurovision Delegation, members of Australians multicultural and multilingual SBS broadcaster, fans, and father of Australia’s participant, Kate Miller-Heidke.
Dr Vuletic is a leading expert and commentator on Eurovision. He is author of Postwar Europe and the Eurovision Song Contest, the first ever scholarly work on the history of Eurovision for which he received the European Union’s most prestigious research award, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship. He is also a historian of contemporary Europe at the University of Vienna and an alumnus of the Australian National University, the Hebrew University, Yale University and Columbia University.
Ambassador Cannan expressed his enthusiasm of the event and Australia’s participation, “The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s premiere music event that combines culture, geopolitics, and much more. A lot of people ask where Australia’s (and Israel’s) fascination with Eurovision comes from. It’s a great question! If I had to venture a guess, I would say it has a lot to do with Australia’s and Israel’s diverse and multicultural societies, as well as our respective countries’ dynamic engagement with music and entertainment.”
“The Eurovision Song Contest, founded in 1956, is an annual televised pop extravaganza in which bands from dozens of countries compete before a live audience. Nearly 200 million Europeans tune in. Yet after more than 50 years, Eurovision not only lives on but has become ever more tolerant and diverse. Europe would not be the same without it.” Dean Vuletic
Marcel Bezencon of the European Broadcasting Union was the brainchild of the contest. It was based on Italy’s San Remo Music Festival and was designed to test the limits of live television broadcast technology. “The first Contest was held on 24 May 1956, when seven nations participated. With a live orchestra and simple sing-along songs on every radio station. The Contest grew into a true pan-European tradition” EBU
This year, the popular televised musical competition will draw votes from 41 states, most of which are in Europe. The ESC has been one of the world’s most popular television programs. The popularity of the contest has made the ESC an attractive tool of musical diplomacy for local and national governments.
Why are Australia and Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest? There are only two requirements to compete — you have to be invited and you have to be part of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which Australia’s SBS joined in 1979, four years before it first broadcast the contest. Israel made its debut in 1973 and was the first non-European country that was granted permission to participate in the event.
Australia is among the first semi-finalists. As the host country of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019, Israel will automatically qualify to compete in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest. If you want to join the crowd and watch Eurovision, but don’t know where, tune in to your country’s national broadcaster on television or watch their live stream.
EBU officials like to insist that their organization is not a political one, but rather a technical one that promotes international cooperation in radio and television broadcasting. Countries coming together to share their love of music and entertaining the public. Music can change the world. As John Lennon wrote, “Give Peace a Chance.”