Romania, Ovidiu Anton, 2

In a statement today, the European Broadcasting Union confirmed that it has withdrawn member services from Romanian public service broadcaster Televiziunea Romana (TVR) after the broadcaster clocked up debts of over 16 million Swiss franc (14.5 million euro). This means that as of now, Ovidiu Anton cannot compete in Stockholm with his song “Moment of Silence”.

The EBU released a statement today detailing the situation. The Romanian broadcaster had accumulated debts of over 14.5 million euro since 2007. Since 2010, the EBU has attempted to restructure the debt, but the broadcaster has not made the payments. The EBU say they have written to the Romanian government four times this year, without any response.

The EBU gave the Romanian finance minister a final deadline of 20 April, extended to 21 April, requiring a down payment of 10 million Swiss franc (9 million euro). After the broadcaster did not respond, the EBU made the decision to withdraw member privileges.

In a statement, the EBU explained:

“TVR will now no longer be able to participate in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest and will lose access to other EBU member services including the Eurovision News and Sports News Exchanges, the right to broadcast specific sporting events, legal, technical and research expertise and lobbying services.”

The EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre explained the decision:

“It is regrettable that we are forced to take this action. We are disappointed that all our attempts to resolve this matter have received no response from the Romanian government. In recent weeks the EBU has taken note of the Ministry of Finance’s suggestion that TVR may be placed into insolvency proceedings which may in turn lead to a profound restructuring of the broadcaster. The EBU is a not-for-profit association which represents 73 Public Service Broadcasters in 56 countries. The continued indebtedness of TVR jeopardises the financial stability of the EBU itself.”

Hitting Romania where it hurts

Coming just two and a half weeks out from Eurovision week, this decision is hitting Romania where it hurts.

Romania has always been a strong country in contemporary Eurovision, qualifying for the final every year since the semi-final system was introduced in 2004. The country has placed third twice, in 2005 with “Let Me Try” by Luminita Anghel & Sistem, and again in 2010 when Paula Seling & Ovi performed “Playing with Fire”.

Romania is known for their strong songs and memorable staging, with such highlights as Paula and Ovi’s transparent twin grand piano and Cezar’s flamboyant performance in 2013.

At the London Eurovision Party, we spoke to Ovidiu Anton about the situation. He was keeping positive:

“Until someone tells me, “Ovidiu, you’re staying home,” I’m just minding my business, I’m just preparing for Stockholm, I’m just taking each show at a time. So today is about London, today is about being here and singing for you guys. No worries, just rock and roll.”

TVR’s general manager Irina Radu has been summoned for an emergency meeting at the Ministry of Finance at 13:00 CET, Eurovision Romania announced via Facebook. We will keep you updated.

What do you think? Was the EBU right to withdraw Romania from Eurovision? Should Romania honour their debts? Share your thoughts below.

READ MORE ROMANIA EUROVISION NEWS HERE

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Stoica Lucian Adrian
Guest
Stoica Lucian Adrian

I would like to explain a simple fact inside my country and people talking outside judge ignorant of the cause. Likewise, representatives of the EBU have sent several requests to the Romanian authorities to support public television. The last address, the EBU has requested a response from the institutions contacted until Thursday, April 21, 20:00, otherwise it will start announcing the exclusion of Romania in Eurovision and TVR among organization members. The situation is unprecedented in the history of EBU, the first television TVR excluded from the association. The exclusion also a country in the Eurovision Song Contest is a… Read more »

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[…] anymore in the ESC, because the deadline for TVR (Romanian Television) to pay its piling debt to EBU (European Broadcasting Union) has expired and the Government refused to help. EBU “has […]

hasa
Guest
hasa

I mean TVR is going insolvent no matter what barring intervention from Romanian government.

hasa
Guest
hasa

@ Pollaski I agree. EBU is going to be insolvent now or later. That’s why EBU is forcing the government instead of TVR to pay the money on the basis that they believe the government underwrites the debt. That option may be unavailable to EBU if TVR is declared to be insolvent first. I don’t know about the chances but I believe EBU has already run the scenario and decided that the chance to recover the debt is higher if they execute the default clause right now and demand full payment from government right away. It may not be in… Read more »

Pollaski
Guest
Pollaski

Okay, so poking around… and this is utterly amazing.

I found an article that said TVR gets about 30M euros from the government- 29% of their total intake. That puts their overall revenue at about 103M annually.

The station LOST 155M last year alone, according to another article. Which means they were spending at about 255M.

My. God. In. Heaven.

Pollaski
Guest
Pollaski

@hasa Let’s be honest, dude. If the EBU even sees 10% of this money, I’m going to be amazed. They’re dealing with a corrupt, incompetent, government run television station that is royally fudged over 15 million euros. That’s honestly not that much in television- that’s about how much three episodes of Game of Thrones cost to make. And of course I understand production quality and all that- but still… if TVR is incapable of making even payments on that- they’re in deep trouble. Furthermore, how much of their revenue did they just lose? Eurovisions out. EURO 2016 is out. I… Read more »

hasa
Guest
hasa

@ Pollaski

I think it’s a matter who goes first. If TVR declares insolvency first, EBU will miss out its opportunity to demand payment and other legal actions under the contract, hence EBU is exposed to a higher risk of not being able to recover all of their debt. Normally, creditors can’t take actions against a company when it has been declared insolvent.

AM Casablancas
Guest
AM Casablancas

the past participation was a piece of crap and this song wasn’t even better, THANK GOD!

Pollaski
Guest
Pollaski

@hasa

If it saves me from a PR nightmare and unnecessarily hurting someone who’s innocent in all this, you’re damn right I’d wait 18 days.

Or rather, I wouldn’t have set the deadline at April 21- I’d have made it May 15. And I would have told that if wasn’t paid by then, Romania was out for 2017 no matter what (if not longer). So my genorosity in the short term would be replaced by stricter long-term limitations.

Amor A.
Guest
Amor A.

You know what I don’t understand about this? Romania had money for a National Selection, they had money for a participation fee but they couldn’t pay off some of their debts? This showed that they did not care, they took advantage of the situation and they probably would have let this go on and on. TVR in my mind was the unfair one.?

hasa
Guest
hasa

It’s no longer a matter of whether TVR can make the quarterly payments. It’s basically a fight between Romanian government and EBU. Romanian government wanted to hide under corporate veil so EBU used its legal right under the contract to demand (almost) full repayment and terminate all services when the default happened. Noted that EBU went straight to the government instead of TVR because they knew TVR couldn’t pay. Normally, you can’t go to the shareholders to ask for payments but EBU argued that Romanian government was legally obliged to underwrite the debts. Romanian government of course can say otherwise… Read more »

hello
Guest
hello

That’s unfair for singer? That’s so sad…
Actually, I don’t like much song but I listened to* the song today, out of spite.

hello
Guest
hello

That’s unfair for singer? That’s so sad…
Actually, I don’t like much song but I listened the song today, out of spite.

Pollaski
Guest
Pollaski

Romania, not Russia (duh)

And that should say 100k euros/month paid quarterly- or 300k euros/quarter.

Pollaski
Guest
Pollaski

@badger I’ve been thinking about what’d I’d have done if I were the EBU. Having used my amazing brain to think things through: here’s what Pollaski’s sanctions on Russia would be for nonpayment. Require 10% (1.4 million euro) “good faith” payment, with 100k euro installments paid quarterly afterwards. One quarter grace period for nonpayment, at which all services will be immediately shut off. If not paid by April 21st: – Immediate cancellation of all EBU services except for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, where Romania will be allowed to participate and vote. – 2 year ban from the Eurovision Song… Read more »

badger
Guest
badger

In my opinion, the EBU should have said Romania can’t participate in 2017 due to non-payment instead of withdrawing the act they’ve already prepared only two weeks out. It’s unfair on the artist and on fans.

Pollaski
Guest
Pollaski

@AurelianTamisan Here’s a better question: How much money got spent on all that? And how much that was spent could have been saved to make the EBU happy until after the contest? There’s three parties here- Ovidiu, TVR, and the EBU. Of the three, Ovidiu’s blameless entirely and the EBU can only be blamed for their godawful timing- they really haven’t given any good reason why terminating Romania couldn’t have waited three more weeks. The VAST majority lies with TVR. They knew this was coming for months, if not years, and did nothing to prevent it. They could have said… Read more »

AurelianTamisan
Guest
AurelianTamisan

Pollaski, I think you realize that the situation is totally different form your example, right? Ovidiu didn’t get injured and didn’t get arrested. And ok, let’s not talk about that tickets, let’s just stay at the costs of organizing that national selection, alongside with the public votes. EBU owns us that money. And they also owns the lost time of the artists who entered that contest. You can’t do what they just did, and they will not get easy past their decision.

AurelianTamisan
Guest
AurelianTamisan

ESC Addict, who do you thin is Ovidiu, EBU’s mockery? What he should be, an interval act? He’s not idiot, he would never accept that. He has all the rights to participate in the contest, not to be just an interval act. EBU has all the rights to ask his money back, but not to change the rules of the game after the game starts. They would have had all the rights to not receive Romania in the contest. EBU asked Romania somewhere at 8-9 million euros from a day to another, they are laughing at us, of course you… Read more »

EscAddict
Guest
EscAddict

@AurelianTamisan
Ooooh, I bet the EBU are really scared of you.

Pollaski
Guest
Pollaski

Or Ecuador. Whatever. All I know is its Argentina.

I better figure it out so I’m wearing neutral colors when I go and don’t end up stabbed or something >_>

Pollaski
Guest
Pollaski

@AurelianTamisan I just bought tickets to the Argentina/Ecuador soccer game in Seattle on June 14. I bought them because I’ll get to see Lionel Messi, who’s probably the greatest player in the world. If Messi gets injured- or arrested for tax fraud thanks to the Panama Papers- and can’t play, do I get a refund? Sorry, not how it works. When you buy tickets, you buy tickets to see the event thats transcribed on the ticket- in this case, the Eurovision Song Contest, not specifically any one artist in the contest. The ESC will continue as normal, Ovidiu or not,… Read more »

EscAddict
Guest
EscAddict

I totally support EBU. They have been trying to get TVR to pay their bills for years. TVR knew the consequences of not paying. The last letter from EBU reminded TVR again & they did not even respond. TVR got what they deserved.
I feel sorry for Ovidiu. I think he should be the interval act in his Semi Final.

AurelianTamisan
Guest
AurelianTamisan

Well, lte’s see what EBU will do when I’ll ask for money back for voting for Ovidiu Anton. Let’s see what Ebu will do if maybe I bought tickets in Stockholm to see Anton. EBU should have thought about this measure before they let Romania enter the contest, now it is totally illegal to withdraw them. Anton has all the rights to participate, he earned that rights. If Romanians are smart they will show EBU that they can’t mock with them. And what an irony, it’s exactly a situation found in his song. ‘We stand on the edge, they want… Read more »

Daniel E.
Guest
Daniel E.

As a Romanian, of course I feel frustrated and my heart goes out to Ovidiu (despite my hate for the song, sorry to say…) – it took him like 4 attempts to win Selectia Nationala, and when he finally did it…this happens…

But…also as a Romanian, I am used to look at the bright side! ;)). At least we will keep our qualification record spotless ;)). Phewww, that was close!

P.S. ‘Baby, I don’t need dollar bills to have fun tonight!!!’ ;))

Azotman
Guest
Azotman

Bonsoir Stockholm,

This is really unfair regarding Ovidiu Anton and all the Eurovision fans. You cannot accept a country to participate, let them follow the entire selection process and then deny the participation, it is way too late for this !
This is a complete non-sense.
Shame on EBU for this decision, they will regreat it !!!

Cordially yours,
Maxime

Amor A.
Guest
Amor A.

I agree that EBU should have removed Romania from the EBU, you need to pay your debts, especially if your creditors have given you chance after chance and multiple opportunities to pay them off. You think you can get away with not paying your mortgage, your car payments? No! They will take away your car and your house without and you will have no right to be upset. I do think however they should have done this before Romania’s national selection or after Eurovision. Timining was bad. But they have to learn consequences for their actions.

El Rosario de Raquel
Guest

“Play with fire”

cheesecake
Guest
cheesecake

I totally agree that TVR should have paid their debts. 9 years is an immense time span. Still, why did the EBU have to wait 9 years for this money? They should’ve done something about this way earlier. And if not, at least don’t let the country stage a national selection and ban them two weeks before the contest, but in January or something!
So sorry for the Romanian fans and of course Ovidiu and the delegation.

MMs
Guest
MMs

🙁 I did not like one inch of the song but come on he does not deserve this. Why EBU? Couldn’t you disqualify Romania before selecting him 🙁 All that work for sh*t! I hope they will internally select him once they reenter 🙁

Colin
Guest
Colin

I agree, Ovidiu Anton: ”Moment of Silence” should be an interval act either in the semi final 2 or the grand finals. Make a petition about that, please.

hasa
Guest
hasa

@ Denis

Having a debt is not an issue. It becomes an issue when TVR told EBU that they no longer could afford to make the repayments sometime after January this year.

oooops
Guest
oooops

The slogan is “Come together” but appearantly, it is ALL about money. Who agree with me that the eurovision slogan should be “More cash than you”

Denis
Guest
Denis

I agree that it is a good decision to kick out Romania, if they are in debt.Fair is fair. Even though I wonder why EBU let them compete if they had debts to begin with and also why TVR or the government didn’t fight harder to resolve the issue. Aren’t they interested?
But it’s a shame for Anton. They could have done an Anna Book with him, letting him be a guest at least. There is still time..

Though if you don’t have a country to represent it would be tricky! Still enough time to be a regular guest, country-less?

CookyMonzta
Guest
CookyMonzta

@EugeneESCUK: I haven’t read all of the comments here, but I just read your latest. Exactly when did they get the warning that they would be barred from this year’s ESC? If it was during THIS month, or even in March, then I agree with you, that the EBU should let them compete, then dispense punishment with regard to the 2017 contest.

hasa
Guest
hasa

“The latest payment was made in January this year in the amount of €250,000 after which TVR informed the international organisation that it can’t sustain these payments any more.” So, it seems like EBU was taken aback when TVR announced in January that they would stop making payments to EBU. That’s a bold statement to make to your creditors. EBU of course couldn’t accept this and they also knew from TVR’s financial reports that TVR did not have anything in their balance sheet to liquidate, so they went to Romanian government which I assume the shareholders of TVR to request… Read more »

@EugeneESCUK
Guest

This is the right decision but it should have been made a lot sooner or after the ESC.

Leaving it so late, they could have let them take part and then banned them from future contests.

You have to feel sorry for Ovidiu and the other members of the group, they have done nothing wrong.

Nice to see the EBU being firm and actually following their own rules…………..eventually!!!!

Pollaski
Guest
Pollaski

Hrmm… so sports is where it hits them the most? Well, its a good thing this isn’t a major time of year for European sports or anything, y’know, with the Champions League Semifinal just 4 days away. Then take away sports. Say “they can do eurovision this year, as we dont want to punish the artist, but every other EBU broadcast will be unaccessable to them” TVR’s just as bad in this as the EBU, reading into it. They clammed up instead of trying to be open about their inability to pay, and its only made things worse for them.… Read more »

Ben_1
Guest

@Robyn Gallagher
I 100% agree with you. For TVR, Eurovision is a small part of their programming as opposed to sports. The big deal is that TVR have a LOT of money to pay back so that they can get the sports broadcasting rights, not that they can’t take part in the contest.

Ben_1
Guest

@Magpie I admit that the 21st is quite close to the contest, but like I said in my previous comments, the EBU probably could have done something alternative to banning Romania from the contest only 18 days before the contest. But considering this is an issue spanning back to 2007, threatening the economic stability of not only TVR, but the entire EBU, I think that the deadline was kept as close to Eurovision as possible so that TVR could scrape whatever money they have left to pay the EBU. Plus, this isn’t just about the contest. The deadline was set… Read more »

PhysalisFranchetti
Guest
PhysalisFranchetti

I think the EBU have done this now because this is when they have leverage. Before or after the contest no-one is watching. Right now is when it will have the most impact and maximise the chances of the EBU getting paid.
This is obviously the EBU’s approach because this is just what they do when they know a country has rigged the jury votes – they get rid of the vote on the night, when everyone is watching……..

Slightly Biased ESC Fan
Guest
Slightly Biased ESC Fan

Wow. Didn’t really care much for their song this year but I truly am heartbroken for the Romanians. The EBU dropped the ball HARD on this one.

Robyn Gallagher
Guest
Robyn Gallagher

You know, Eurovision is a tiny part of this. The really big deal – the thing that’ll really be hurting TVR – is the loss of sports broadcast rights. That’s where the ratings and therefore the advertising money comes from.

Eurovision is the high profile event that the media can focus on, but if TVR are holding panic meetings today, it’ll be to get those sweet sports rights back. Eurovision is just gravy.

Thomas
Guest
Thomas

I think Romania should of at least been allowed to compete this year but excluded from next year onwards until the debt is paid.

Magpie
Guest
Magpie

@Ben_1

My criticism of your comment was that April 21 isn’t a reasonable deadline hence the inopportune decision.

This deadline should have been earlier and should never have been pushed back until now.

Magpie
Guest
Magpie

@Rock Me

It would have been exponentially worse had Romania been disqualified just moments before Ovidiu was due to sing.

However in the light of things the concept of timing has been largely ignored by the EBU. Every time they do this or promote something it is always at the worst possible time. Remember the reaction when they announced that Australia could compete for a second time? Even I criticised that announcement and I am Australian!

Ben_1
Guest

@Magpie I actually explicitly say in my comment that I disagreed with what the EBU has done. All I pointed out was that the EBU had set a REASONABLE deadline for TVR to pay back SOME of its debts, and when they didn’t, the consequences were acted upon immediately. I agree that it was unfair for Ovidiu and the entire Romanian delegation that had nothing to do with the debt and I am completely against Romania being excluded with only 18 days left to go, but like you said, the EBU gave a lot of chances for TVR and the… Read more »

Rock Me
Guest
Rock Me

Honestly, I get why EBU did that and it’s ok. All the countries should obey the same rules BUT withdrawing Romania like less than 3 Weeks before ESC is really badly executed.Poor Ovidiu and his team, they worked hard on this project and NOW found out that they are “expelled”. Imagine if EBU waited a week or 2 longer….it would’ve been a disaster.

georgekirkas
Guest
georgekirkas

OMG, I’m shocked!!! The EBU should have disqualified Romania from the beginning! Instead, though, they let them believe that they could take part, so Romania spent money on a national selection that is now proved to have been completely useless! On the other hand, TVR shouldn’t have ignored the EBU’s warnings and having 18 countries in both Semi-Finals is also fairer.

Julian
Guest
Julian

Romania as a country is financially ok.
TVR, the national broadcaster, on the other hand, is a mess. There are rumors of bad contracts, corruption. Needs a thorough investigation from prosecutors.
This is not something that will be solved soon or easy, Romania will probably be out of EBU for quite a few years.