EBU reminds Putin of licence obligations
Chris Forrester

A few days ago Russia’s Prime Minsister Putin said he would like Russia, China and the Central Asian states to hold their own version of the Eurovision Song Contest. ‘Talk to us first,’ insisted the EBU.

The Eurovision Song Contest is massively popular in Russia and Eastern Europe, and has spread its broadcasting wings as far as Israel. A new sub-Saharan version is being planned, as is an event for the Middle East.

Putin’s idea was welcomed by the EBU. Indeed, the EBU said that it would be delighted to license Mr Putin the Eurovision Song Contest format. “The EBU owns and sells the format for one of the most-watched annual television events in Europe to countries across the world,” said a statement from the EBU.

“Why not have the Song Contest in China, and Central Asia? We own the rights to an international song contest. We would be happy to sell the format to Prime Minister Putin,” said Bjoern Erichsen, Television Director, EBU. “Investors have already signed a deal to make a version of the contest in the Middle East and North Africa. We are close to finalising a deal for a contest called Songs of Africa in sub-Saharan Africa”.

The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual competition for active Members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), represented by the public broadcasters in their respective countries. The first contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland in 1956. Since then, the contest has become a true European tradition. This year's Eurovision Song Contest was won by Alexander Rybak of Norway, and watch by over 125 million TV viewers. Norway will host the 55th edition of the contest in Oslo on 25, 27 and 29 May 2010.