Tabloid journalists and Irish politicians let out a collective moan earlier this week when it was revealed Jedward’s participation in Eurovision 2012 had cost state broadcaster RTE €254,000. The Irish Daily Mirror released the figures, which include a €14,477 tab for food and drink, and a €61,739 hotel bill. That covers John and Edward and their 17-strong support team.
Martin Ferris, a Sinn Fein politician and former volunteer with the IRA, described the expenses as “inexcusable.”
“In these recessionary times RTE need to be more prudent with taxpayers’ money,” he told the paper. “People in RTE are already taking a hit as it is.” He also pointed out that the €60,000 hotel bill was more than most people’s yearly salary.
The news comes as RTE faces a massive funding shortage. It reportedly has a deficit of €57million and needs to lay off around 200 employees by the fall.
Team Wiwi are annoyed with the backlash. Participating in Eurovision isn’t cheap—especially when the contest takes place in super-pricey Baku. Our readers will recall that San Marino’s Valentina Monetta actually had a meltdown at the Baku Airport when faced with paying €10 for an espresso. Jedward and RTE didn’t decide for the contest to be held in Baku, but they did have to live with the expense.
Furthermore, Jedward and their team had little choice but to stay at a luxury hotel: Azerbaijan’s government selected a small number of official hotels where contestants could stay. Given security concerns, it was also essential they stay at a hotel that met certain security standards. Austria’s Trackshittaz—who didn’t even make the final—stayed at the same hotel as Jedward, and we can confirm that they brought a sizable delegation as well. Yet we don’t hear the Austrian press moaning about how expensive their trip was, or how the Trackshittaz stayed in Baku after being eliminated to sunbathe by the pool.
The reality is that programming costs money. The decision to take part in Eurovision reflects the Irish public’s desire to watch it. If RTE exists to entertain and inform the public, it can’t exactly withdraw from one of Europe’s biggest cultural events. The backlash to that would be even greater.