Israel may not host Eurovision 2019 over budget disagreement

Israel may not host Eurovision 2019 over budget disagreement
3 min read
13 August, 2018
Disagreement over the Eurovision budget suggests Israel may be unable to host the contest as deadline for guarantee payment approaches.
Netta Barzilai's Lisbon win secured Israel's right to host Eurovision [Getty]
Israel's Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC) have warned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the country might not be able to host the 2019 Eurovision, as disagreements over who will pay the 12 million Euro ($14 million) guarantee mount.

The payment, made to the European Broadcasting Union, is due by 14 August, and failing to pay by the deadline would mean that Israel would have to give up its right to host the competition.

The production cost is estimated to be at 35 million Euros ($40 million), and a payment guarantee of 12 million was meant to be paid by the IPBC by 1 August.

Israel is allowed to participate in the European competition because the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) is part of the EBU, which sponsors the competition.

IPBC has said that they are unable to foot the bill without firing 200 employees and have questioned Netanyahu's refusal to allocate a budget for the competition.  

Israel won rights to host the Eurovision contest after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai beat 25 other contestants in Lisbon in May with her song "Toy", in a contest watched by more than 200 million people around the world.

According to Israeli new site, Ynet, a source close to Netanyahu said, "The prime minister and the finance minister have decided a body budgeted at the enormous amount of NIS 750 million ($202 million) at the expense of the public can find the funds for a guarantee for the Eurovision. The IPBC is being wasteful and trying to sabotage the Eurovision."

IPBC, however, said that its budget is "completely transparent and covers, by law, diverse activity in three TV channels, nine radio stations and additional online activity".

"The IPBC is required by law to invest in original content and productions throughout the year. Diverting these funds means cancelling projections and firing employees for three days of broadcasts for the Eurovision," the broadcaster explained.

"Almost every country that had the right to host the Eurovision participated in its financing and earned a lot of money for the state coffers from thousands of visitors and worldwide exposure."

"All of our attempts to find a shared solution were met with disregard, and the government's decision unequivocally means giving up the right to host the competition," the IPBC concluded.

Israel's hosting win was met with controversy, after Netta stated "next time in Jerusalem" in a move criticised as politicising her own victory.

Netta's statement came at a time of heightened tensions after President Donald Trump broke with decades of US policy and moved his country's Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city of Jerusalem.

Turkey, which boycotts the Eurovision contest claiming that the tournament only benefits the so-called 'big five' members, have previously claimed that Israel's win was merely a political move.

"For the first time, they let Israel win the competition so that they can host it next year," claimed Turkish prime minister Binali Yildrim, adding, "They planned everything so that it can be held in Jerusalem purposely." 

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