It’s no secret that Malta‘s Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) put a lot of money into their entry for Eurovision 2016, determined that Ira Losco would finally get Malta’s first win. But that didn’t happen, and with details of the spending leaking, people aren’t happy.
The Times of Malta received leaked documents purporting to reveal Malta’s expenses for Eurovision 2016. A source told the Times that the cost of the hotel and flights alone totalled €108,264 — an amount that Malta would have normally spent on the entire competition in previous years.
PBS chairman Tonio Portughese told the Times of Malta that the leaked amounts were incorrect, with the broadcaster’s CEO saying the actual costs were in fact lower. However, the broadcaster would not reveal the actual expenses, and a request the newspaper made under Malta’s Freedom of Information Act was rejected.
The leaked documents showed expenses over €200,000, but this did not include the Maltese Eurovision preview party, and travel and accommodation for Ira Losco and her team on their promotional tour, which included stops in Amsterdam, Riga, Moscow and London. The newspaper also revealed that the broadcaster footed the bill for travel and accommodation for singers and delegations from other countries to travel to Malta “as part of the lobbying system”.
Not included in the leaked document is the hologram coat designed by Alex Zabotto-Bentley estimated to cost €80,000, and the pricey digital projection system.
This staging element was heavily promoted but eventually dropped from the performance after it did not function as expected.
The Times earlier reported that the Maltese Eurovision 2016 campaign had been given a “limitless” budget in order to increase Ira Losco’s chances of winning in Stockholm.
It reported one estimate that PBS had spent “at least double” what Malta normally spends, with one source estimating the broadcaster had spent well over €1 million on the bid.
PBS CEO and Maltese Head of Delegation Anton Attard told the Times of Malta the expenses were covered by advertising and sponsorships, and that PBS had made an “overall profit”.
The high spending has drawn criticism in Malta, with the Archbishop of Malta Mgr Charles Scicluna reportedly speaking out against the spending.
For contrast, in 2012 Irish broadcaster RTÉ revealed that its costs for pricey Baku came in at only €254,000, and that they had paid even less in 2011 when Ireland placed 8th – proof that a good result can come on a relatively low budget.
But in the end, all the spending couldn’t secure a win for Malta. “Walk on Water” was a favourite with juries, but prompted televotes from only three countries. This gave Malta the overall result of 12th place, sending them back to the drawing board for 2017.