The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) is a non-profit, professional association of broadcasting organizations similar to the European Broadcasting Union. It was established in 1964 and currently has more than 280 members in over 50 countries and regions. The ABU first attempted to run international song contests for its members in the late 1980s. The ABU Popular Song Contest was held from 1985 to 1987 and the ABU Golden Kite World Song Festival ran from 1989 to 1991.
In 2009, the European Broadcasting Union approached the ABU with a partnership proposition. The EBU intended to co-produce the Asiavision Song Contest with the ABU. However, the negotiations fell through, and the EBU sold the Eurovision format for Asian production to a private company from Singapore. The event was set to premiere in 2009, but ended up being postponed indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the ABU outlined a plan for a Eurovision-inspired song contest. In November 2011, the ABU announced that they would organize their own Radio and TV Song Festivals. The inaugural festivals were to take place in Seoul, South Korea in October 2012.
The organizers have slightly tweaked the format for it to suit the Asian music and television market perfectly. On the one hand, Asian countries have a strong national pride and are highly competitive. So the contest is a friendly competition between Asian cultures. On the other hand, it is designed to bring Asian peoples closer together with the help of the universal language of music and to nurture mutual understanding in the region.
The ABU Radio Song Festival is a competition for up-and-coming musicians who haven't signed a contract with any label. National radio broadcasters choose and submit their participants. A jury chooses 15 finalists who perform during the ABU General Assembly. Another jury chooses the winner.
The ABU TV Song Festival is a concert performance for professional musicians. Unlike the Radio Song Festival, it is not competitive. National broadcasters select their participants who are well-known in their country of origin. The participants perform during the ABU General Assembly. The concert is recorded and then broadcast by participating ABU members. Non-participating members and other broadcasters are allowed to broadcast it later for a fee.
Photo: ABU 2012 Seoul