Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 16:39 UK

Asian 'Eurovision' to take place

Russia's Dima Bilan (r)
Russia's Dima Bilan (r) won the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest

An Asian version of the Eurovision Song Contest is to take place next year, it has been announced.

The competition is set to involve 15 countries, including India and China, with a series of regional and national heats culminating in a grand final.

Several countries have expressed an interest in hosting the final, which could be watched by up to 500m viewers.

Asiavision Song Contest organisers say "the universal language of music will help bring people closer together".

'Friendly competition'

Other countries who will be involved in the contest include Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Cambodia, South Korea, Taiwan, Laos, Macau, Hong Kong and Singapore are also set to take part in the project.

Andreas Gerlach, head of Asiavision, the company which has purchased the Eurovision Song Contest format for Asia, said it was "highly suited" to the region.

"Its people love popular music and have strong national pride. The song contest is a friendly competition between cultures," he added.

The Eurovision Song Contest began in 1956, and this year's event was won by Russia.

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