Eurovision fans like a bit of drama, especially if it involves nations whose relation to the huge song contest is rocky. Turkey didn’t appear in May’s 2013 edition of the show in Malmö, Sweden. Turkish broadcaster TRT complained about the rules that give 50% of the power to the viewing public’s televotes, and 50% to national juries.
It was easy to speculate on the motives here, Turkey’s diaspora have often made themselves heard in Eurovision, securing many points for Turkish entries from places like The Netherlands and Germany. Some say this effect was the main reason that Turkey enjoyed such a great rate of qualification for the final. So diluting this effect on the final scores with national juries didn’t appear to be in their interests.
I doubt that’s the only reason, personally. After all, these rules had been in force since 2009 and it hadn’t stopped them getting 3 top 10 finishes (including 2nd place in Oslo) before their withdrawal. Whatever it is, it seems the EBU will have their work cut out to lure them back, as TRT recently announced they wouldn’t participate in 2014 or even beyond that point.
Against that backdrop, the Eurovision community got wind of an announcement by TRT about “Turkvision”, a song contest for Turkic-language nations and semi-autonomous regions in Asia and Eastern Europe. It wouldn’t have anything to do with Eurovision (I’d have chosen a different name, personally), with the 2013 edition taking place in Eskişehir, in North-western Turkey. It’s an interesting prospect, and I’m sure some curious Eurovision fans will be interested to follow it in December, where semi-finals on 19 & 21 December decide the dozen finalists for 23 December.
BUT… it’s not a new event at all. It seems to have been reported everywhere that it’s just been launched, but it evidently started back in 2010 after a planned 2009 start, with a handful of videos surviving on Youtube, with entries from nations such as Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan performed in a big amphitheatre.
Azerbaijan’s Eldar & Nikki guest-performed at the 2011 contest, but the internet is oddly quiet about a 2012 contest, so I guess 2013 is merely a re-launch of the format than a knee-jerk reaction to TRT’s attitude to Eurovision. Indeed it seems that some nations are happy to get the best of both worlds, judging from this promotional clip, I spot flags from Albania, Montenegro, FYR Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, Russia and curiously Bosnia & Herzegovina.
It remains to be seen how well the brand can establish itself after this sudden awakening in the Eurovision press, but it seems to be a distinct issue from the Eurovision question. After all, Italy’s had the San Remo festival for decades, and they are (finally) back in the fold. Asia also have the ABU TV Song Festival, a non-competitive cousin of Eurovision for Asian countries. There’s plenty of room, if you ask me.