Russia's prime minister Vladimir Putin has long sought to build military ties with his country's eastern neighbors as a counterweight to NATO.

Now he's proposing that East challenge West in a head-to-head battle of the song contests, suggesting that Russia, China and some Central Asian countries launch their own Eurovision-style competition.

Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest sounded flattered by the proposal Friday, but also reminded Putin that he can't create a televised pan-regional songfest without buying the intellectual property rights from them.

"We own the rights to an international song contest. We would be happy to sell the format to Prime Minister Putin," Bjoern Erichsen, a director with the European Broadcasting Union, said in a statement titled "Just what Putin needs."

Russia is still heady with pride after extravagantly hosting the continent's gaudiest, loudest and most popular music competition in May, watched by 125 million Europeans. Russia won the Eurovision competition in 2008 with Dima Bilan's song, "Believe."

Putin first suggested creating a Eurasian version in China this week, saying the new televised battle of the bands, which he dubbed "Intervision," would strengthen ties among members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional economic and political pact designed in part to counter NATO.

Not so fast, says Eurovision.

"In the world of television, if you come up with an idea of a TV show, you cannot just imitate the format and take it over in exactly the same way with minor changes," Sietse Bakker, a spokesman for EBU, told the Associated Press.

Eurovision has often been dismissed by critics as camp and kitsch. But Putin's contest plan fits with his geopolitical strategy of casting Russia as a global superpower - a country whose political sway and cultural influence transcends the immense geographical span of its borders.

Bakker said the European Broadcasting Union has not approached the Russian government directly yet. "I'm sure they will read the news," he said.

The broadcaster did not say how much it would ask for the rights, but Russia is spending lavishly on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and Putin has a reputation for doing whatever needs to be done to get what he wants.

The prime minister, by some accounts an ABBA fan, was not available for comment Friday.

A British-based ABBA tribute band claimed in February that the Kremlin paid it to perform a secret concert in Russia for Putin and his friends. Putin's spokesman denied that he attended any such clandestine performance.

The original ABBA, a Swedish band, won Eurovision in 1974 with "Waterloo."

Putin has sought to bring the world's top events to Russia to showcase it as a prosperous, modern European nation. Besides the Eurovision finals in 2009, Russia hosted football's 2008 Champions League final and is building ice arenas on its balmy Black Sea shore to stage the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

On Thursday, Putin met with Sepp Blatter, head of the global football body FIFA, to push Russia's bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.