Last year, Jamala brought home Ukraine’s ESC victory, thus securing for Ukraine the right of first refusal for hosting the event in 2017. On the surface, it may seem that the selection of the host country is granted based on the nationality of the winner. Fact of the matter is, that to be able to host the ESC means also being able to pay the price. Ka-ching!
Ukraine’s National Public Broadcast Company (PBC) had offered EUR 15 million to the European Broadcast Union (EBU) to guarantee their eligibility as a host country. Nearly two months have passed since the Grand Final (when Portuguese Salvador Sobral carried home the victory), and the PBC has not paid up, leading to a reported EUR 15 million Ukrainian asset freeze by a Swiss Bank. Awkwaaard.
And if that weren’t enough, the EBU is pushing for PBC to get fined. “The contest’s steering committee […] has recommended that PBC should receive a substantial fine in line with the rules of the competition,” the EBU statement reads. Why? Because Ukraine refused entry to the contest of the Russian representative Yulia Samoylova as she visited the Crimea region after it was annexed by Russia. That too was followed by mass resignations of the organizing team on the ground. Hot, hot mess.
The ESC has a huge fan following (hi fans!), hence an ability to host the event can be a lucrative deal, but whether the revenues collected by the host country outweigh the investment is questionable. What is certain though, is that the event is a unique opportunity for the host country to promote itself.
Not every year does the winner get to stage the following edition. Historically, several countries have opted out of hosting. Even last year’s winner, and this past edition’s host Ukraine, was uncertain due to all the Russia-related conundrum but also the big question whether Ukraine had the means to pay to play.But whether the issue was that Ukraine had the funds to host the show in the first place or that it overspent that money due to poor budgeting, the fact remains that they are in debt to the EBU, and have brought in Swiss legal counsel and mediators to determine their next course of action. Stay tuned!
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