Firstly what do we define by non-European, in this example it is any country that does not lay within the broadcasting area of the European Broadcasting Union. This means that while Morocco and Israel have participated in the Eurovision Song Contest, they fall within the European Broadcasting Area, and so are counted as “European”.
How Does A Country Participate In Eurovision?
For a country to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest they must be recognised as a sovereign nation by the United Nations, this then enables the country to join the International Telecommunication Union. Once this has occurred a member station from that country can then apply to join the European Broadcasting Union. To be a full member of the European Broadcasting Union, a country must fall within the European Broadcasting Area.
In the case of Australia their broadcaster SBS is an associate member, to be an associate member the member station must pay a fee to the EBU and must not be within the European Broadcasting Area.
Who was first?
While Australia will be the first non-European nation competing in the Eurovision Song Contest, they are not the first to do so in a Eurovision contest. Back in 1987 at the second Eurovision Young Dancers contest in Germany, Canada became the first non-European country to compete in a Eurovision contest. Stephen Legate represented the North American nation in Switzerland, but failed to make it into the top three. Canada once again participated in the contest in 1989, this time represented by Cherice Barton. CBC broadcast the 1991 contest but did not participate in the contest.
Have The EBU Set A Precedent?
There has been a lot of speculation regarding whether by the EBU allowing Australia to participate in the contest in 2015 that they have set a precedent for other non-European nations to take part in the contest. This is despite the fact that the EBU has stated that this will be a one-off unless Australia wins in 2015, in which case they will participate in 2016.
Qatar is one country that since 2009 has talked about on and off wishing to participate in the contest. Last year when there was questioning regarding whether Israel would be taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest, we were informed by a member of staff at the Qatari Station Al Jazeera that they were looking at putting a team together to look at participating in the contest. Qatar however fails to fall within the European Broadcasting Area or be a member of the Council of Europe.
Kazakhstan are still in the process of getting full EBU membership. Kazakhstan does fall slightly within the European Broadcasting Area if Azerbaijan is taken as the most eastern extent of that region. Only 4% of Kazakhstan is currently viewed as being part of Europe. For Kazakhstan to participate they would need to join the Council of Europe, and then “Kazakhstan” (TV channel) would be eligible to join the EBU.
Do you think it is right for countries outside of the European Broadcasting Area to participate in the contest?