Tel Aviv 2019

Israeli Government refusing to provide financial guarantee to EBU just days before deadline

In recent years gossip, drama and scandal have become a given when it comes to hosting the Eurovision Song Contest. It appears that this year seems no different! Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth has reported that the 12 million euro financial guarantee to the EBU has yet to be provided. This deposit has been public knowledge for some time. Earlier in the summer, Miri Regev suggested that by paying a deposit, the host should have the freedom to select the host city.
According to the newspaper, the CEO of KAN, Moshe Kahlon, has written to the Israeli Minister of Finance. He outlines that the Government is putting Israel 2019 at risk by not paying up. He explains that the financial backing to ensure the contest is in Israel has yet to be provided:

The first and most urgent milestone that requires treatment is the provision of a bank guarantee by August 1, at the request of the European Broadcasting Union. This is an extremely complex production, which takes a long time to prepare for. I hope that all the relevant parties will be recruited for this.

Deposits and the blame game

To guarantee next years contest the EBU has asked KAN to provide around 12 million euros. This is about a third of what the Contest is expected to cost – around 35 million euros! This money would be used as a deposit in the event Israel was unable to host and needed to pull-out last minute. The Ministry of Finance has reportedly pointed the finger of the refusal to transfer the funds on the Israeli Prime Minister. However, Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has stated that it is the Ministry of Finance’s responsibility. Ultimately, it seems like a circular blame game between the Prime Minister and the ministry. Furthermore, it appears that someone somewhere is reluctant in giving the required funding to the broadcaster. KAN requires the money from the government before transferring it across to the EBU.
However, this is not the first time the EBU have requested a broadcaster for a deposit. Back in 2016, Ukrainian broadcaster National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA:PBC) had to pay a 15 million euro guarantee. Although this money was due to return to the broadcaster, the Geneva debt enforcement office froze the money, raising tensions between the broadcaster and the EBU.
Given the experience UA:PBC had with the EBU, could it be the case that KAN is being somewhat wary of the same issues?
As it stands, preparations for hosting the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 continue. KAN has recently revealed its criteria for hosting the Contest.

What are your thoughts on the comments made by the broadcaster’s CEO? Is this just off-season gossip or is there a more serious underlying issue here? Let us know your thoughts and comments @ESCXTRA!

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