The Scoop

SBS managing director who negotiated Australian Eurovision participation resigns from role

Michael Ebeid played a "key role" in securing Australia's participation at Eurovision

A few days ago, SBS revealed that their managing director, Michael Ebeid, had resigned from his role at the broadcaster. He became managing director in 2011 and played a “key role” in making Australia a participating nation at the Eurovision Song Contest. Ebeid explains that this “difficult decision” comes at the right time for SBS who can now approach somebody new to take SBS forward.

A more commercial approach for SBS

As written by The Guardian in the United Kingdom, Ebeid “took a more commercial approach” as SBS managerial director to those who worked in the role before him. In addition, The Guardian continues to say that “ramping up” SBS’ involvement with the Eurovision network and subsequently its song contest are a prime example of his approach as SBS leader.
Indeed, in a statement on the SBS Australia website, Michael Ebeid explains his decision to step down from his leadership role:

My decision to step down has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made. I absolutely love this place and what it stands for… SBS is very much a family. Serving as the SBS Managing Director has been a real honour and privilege and I depart feeling confident that this is the right time for a new managing director to take the organisation forward.

What we do, makes a difference to people’s lives and helps shape the society in which we live. SBS is the strongest it has been in over 40 years. We are more relevant than ever and we are ready for the future. Considering the struggle of societies globally to integrate diverse communities harmoniously, SBS today performs a critical role in the Australian community.

From interval act to participating nation

After broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest for many years, SBS made it their target to become a fully-fledged participating broadcaster. Indeed, under the leadership of Ebeid, DR gave SBS the opportunity to showcase Australia’s love for the contest during the interval act of the second semi-final in 2014. Jessica Mauboy was given the honour of performing in the exhibition. She sung a specially-written song for the event, the anthemic Sea of Flags. Mauboy went on to perform Sea of Flags at the Closing Ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the Scottish city of Glasgow, as part of the official handover process to the 2018 hosts: Australia’s Gold Coast.
In 2015, Eurovision was celebrating its 60th anniversary. ORF and the EBU decided to celebrate this by issuing a one-off invite to SBS allowing Australia to participate at the contest. As a result, SBS selected one of Australia’s most successful male musicians of the 21st century, Guy Sebastian. Tonight Again was successful, earning Australia a top five finish in Vienna.

From a one-off opportunity to annual invites

Initially, a second Australian participation at Eurovision was only on the cards if they were to win in 2015. While this wasn’t the case, Australia’s participation was deemed a overwhelming success by the EBU and SBS were invited to participate once again in Stockholm in 2016. In every year since, the host broadcaster has issued an invite to SBS to participate which they have accepted. Furthermore, SBS has participated in the past three Junior Eurovision Song Contests too.
Overall, Australia’s best result came in 2016, as Dami Im finished in second place with Sound of Silence after an overwhelming victory in the jury vote. This year, Jessica Mauboy returned to the Eurovision stage to compete for Australia for the first time. In the end, We Got Love secured Australia a fourth consecutive grand final appearance, placing 20th with 99 points.

So, do you think this big change at SBS could affect Australia’s Eurovision participation? Let us know @ESCXTRA

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