Amen! That’s how Ira Losco reacted to the news that Malta’s Eurovision 2016 spend will not be made public.
Taking to Facebook, the two-time Eurovision finalist expressed relief at the Maltese data commissioner’s decision to keep the cost of the country’s Stockholm campaign secret.
The commissioner’s ruling comes on foot of a Freedom of Information request filed by The Times of Malta in May.
The newspaper sought a full breakdown of all spending by PBS and other public entities after reports of a “limitless” budget emerged in the contest’s aftermath.
However, the original request was turned down on the basis that the costs related to a commercial partnership and that PBS had no obligation to release details of “commercial activities”.
Contending that the administration of funds by a state-owned body, regardless of the source, was in the public interest, The Times asked the island’s data commissioner to review the broadcaster’s decision.
At the same time, the publication printed purported spending figures obtained from “leaked” documents.
Now, after a “thorough investigation”, the commissioner has upheld PBS’s initial refusal to provide the data, stating that no public funds went towards Malta’s efforts in this year’s contest.
The ruling also backed up PBS CEO and Maltese Head of Delegation Anton Attard’s assertion that PBS had made an “overall profit” from the Sweden trip.
Ira Losco’s response to the data commissioner’s decision
Ira Losco – the country’s 2016 representative – welcomed the commissioner’s findings. Writing to her fans on social media, the “Walk On Water” singer thanked her supporters, including private investors.
Quoting the commissioner, the new mother shared her hope that the report would satisfy those seeking answers. The message is signed off with a series of kisses.
Amen . Again I would like to thank all those who have supported me throughout my career and precisely because of all those years of working relationships, many were on board during Eurovision as private investors alongside new ones. The commissioner established, “in a clear and factual manner”, that no public funds were actually used and the claims of a profit have now been backed up after having examined all expenses. One hopes that the answers in the report below to those questions raised are satisfying and equally weighed with what was rightful to ask amidst all allegations. Patience is a virtue and honesty is always the best policy in life .xxx
The leaked documents
Reports of PBS’ alleged extortionate Eurovision spend first emerged in early summer.
The Times of Malta received leaked documents purporting to reveal Malta’s Eurovision 2016 expenses. A source told The Times that the cost of the hotel and flights alone totalled €108,264 — an amount that supposedly equates to the delegation’s entire spend in previous years.
The leaked documents showed expenses over €200,000, but these 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”.
The estimated €80,000 hologram coat designed by Alex Zabotto-Bentley was also missing from the documents, as was 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 reported high spending drew much criticism, with even the the Archbishop of Malta Mgr Charles Scicluna speaking out against the expenditure.
How the Maltese taxpayers responds to the data commissioner’s findings remains to be seen. For her part, Ira Losco appears to have the backing of her fans, with her stance on the matter being met with largely positive comments.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.