ABU Song Festival 2012

The ABU TV Song Festival, otherwise known as the Asia-Pacific TV Song Festival, took place on the 14th of October in Seoul, South Korea. KBS (Korean Broadcasting Company) took on the responsibility of hosting and funding the inaugural event and welcomed participants from eleven of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union's members to Seoul.

There has been talk of replicating the Eurovision Song Contest format in Asia for some time. As far back as 2007, there was the idea of an "Asiavision" song contest in which countries would send participants to a host nation and the public or juries would vote for a winner, much like Eurovision. The contest was later dubbed Our Sound and the first edition was scheduled to take place in 2009 but after being pushed back to 2010, the Asian Eurovision was shelved and never materialised.

However, the ABU announced that the Asia-Pacific TV Song Festival would take place in 2012 and invited member broadcasters to submit entries, giving them a deadline of the 18th of May 2012. Twelve applications were successful and the countries to form the line-up were: Afghanistan, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Mongolia, after selecting their performer and song, later withdrew from the festival in September 2012.  

The festival took place at the KBS Concert Hall and contained all the spectacle we would expect from a song contest, but unlike the format that we are used to with the Eurovision Song Contest, the event was a non-competitive gala so there was no winning country. It was also not broadcast live, thus did not include any voting procedure. So, it is not a "contest" per se, but more of a showcase of talent from the region.

The group Perfume, representing Japan with "Spring of Life"

The ABU seems keen to develop the festival and turn it into a competition; perhaps they are just testing the water to see if there is a demand for a competitive event. After all, at the inaugural Eurovision Song Contest a "winner" was decided behind closed doors.

Most countries entered well-known domestic artists performing songs they had already had hits with, including those with the biggest music markets in the region - Japan, South Korea and Australia.

The EBU reported in late 2011 that the ABU would be going ahead with a televised song festival but cited that the show would be a "cultural celebration" alongside the ABU Radio Song Festival, which is a competition. The ABU also sent observers to the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Baku, and the union has expressed the possibility that the ABU radio and television festivals could be combined in the future to create something akin to the song contest we know and love in Europe.

Havana Brown and her hit single with Pitbull, "We Run the Night" - representing Australia

Could this be Asia and the Pacific's Eurovision? It looks promising. This festival is closer than Our Sound ever became to being a pan-Asian and Pacific song contest even without there being a winner crowned at the end. If the ABU are serious about amalgamating their radio contest with this event and with the increasing demand for and prevelance of K-Pop and J-Pop in western and English-speaking markets, this could be an event that is followed globally.

The event is currently being broadcast across the participating nations and can be found in its entirety on YouTube.

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