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European Broadcasting Union threatens to strip Ukraine of Eurovision 2017

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which is the owner and producer of the Eurovision Song Contest, has issued a 'red flag' warning to the National Television Company of Ukraine (NTU) over gross violations and delays in preparation for the 2017 contest.

Oleksandr Kharebin, the Acting Director General of the NTU, has publicly announced to Ukranian media on Sunday, that the EBU will make its final determination regarding Ukraine’s ability to host the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest on December 8th.

Kharebin also added that in October of this year the EBU had issued a ‘red flag’ warning to the NTU, threatening to strip Ukraine of the contest if gross violations and delays in the preparation process were not resolved by December.

Just weeks earlier, serious concerns over Ukraine’s budget for the event, or rather the lack thereof, prompted the resignation of the NTU’s Director General Zurab Alasania.

Should the EBU decide to strip Ukraine of the contest, Eurovision 2017 will likely be handed to Russia, whose contestant Sergey Lazarev took 3rd place in the 2016 competition, winning the popular vote and coming in just behind Ukraine’s Jamala and Australia’s Dami Im after controversial and what some have called “politically motivated” jury votes were announced.

Wait a minute, if Australia came in second place, why doesn’t the contest just pass to them? The problem is that according to the Eurovision rules, a non-European nation – which Australia clearly is – cannot host the contest.

According to Kharebin, since receiving the warning in October, Ukraine has been able to resolve some of the issues and shorten its lag in preparation, however, serious obstacles still remain.

Among unresolved items are the terms of cooperation agreements with the International Exhibition Center (presumed contest venue), contracts with ticket operators, tour operators, stage preparation crews and foreign contractors – all of which have not been finalized. Not to mention the huge gap in the budget.

In early November, The Telegraph ran a story on the situation surrounding Ukraine’s preparation for the 2017 Eurovision song contest with a revealing tittle: ‘Desperate’ Ukraine may not host Eurovision 2017 due to lack of fundsHere is what was reported:

Hosting next year’s competition – the traditional honour for the Eurovision winner – is proving so costly that Ukrainian television executives have warned they may not be able to host it in 2017 – and the funding crisis has caused the head [Zurab Alasania] of the country’s national television company to resign.

The war-torn country had budgeted £14 million for an “austerity Eurovision”, a modest amount in comparison to the £48 million spent by Azerbaijan when they hosted the show in 2012.

In an interview with newspaper Ukrainskaya Pradva, Alasania said: “Overcoming the resistance of bureaucrats is very difficult, and we didn’t complain until recently. But now we are just desperate. We wouldn’t be able to organise Eurovision in 2017.”

The conclusion is therefore this: even if all goes “well” and Ukraine is allowed to keep the contest, in 2017 we can most definitely expect to witness what will arguably be the most underfunded and poorly organized Eurovision event since its inception in 1956.

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Sergey Gladysh
Managing Editor for The Duran.
Co-founder and president of the Russian-American Youth Association.
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