Is Eurovision 2017 in jeopardy? It’s a natural question to ask after NTU’s director Zurab Alasania’s resignation earlier this week.
Speaking to the Ukrainian version of Deutsche Welle, EBU officials claim that the contest’s preparations “will not stop for a single day”. However, the latest media reports suggest that next year’s organisation may not be working as smoothly as we’re used to.
As we explained on Tuesday, Alasania published a letter announcing that he is leaving the broadcaster. In his statement, he suggested that the Ukrainian government wasn’t putting much effort — or financial resource — into the contest, forcing him to oversee regular broadcasting activities and the contest on a shoestring budget. So he decided to leave with only six months to go until the event.
The former official claimed that Ukrainian authorities could “administrate [the country’s budget] with impunity” and sought to put the focus on the relationship between NTU and the government. And he actually succeeded.
— Zurab Alasania (@Zurab_Alasania) November 1, 2016
Thankfully, it appears that the contest itself is not at risk. Phew! But questions keep coming about how things are actually working after Alasania explained that preparations are approximately two months behind where they should be.
Nevertheless, he’s confident that NTU can overcome the hurdles if authorities throw their full weight behind the contest. He contends that the problem was simply that authorities were not putting enough interest into the contest. As he explains:
“The state isn’t that interested in Eurovision, officials say ‘Why do we need that?’ Then it seems that it’s only important to me, because NTU has a contract on cooperation with the EBU, which has my signature”.
Despite his strong statements, Alasania will continue working with EBU until the government appoints his successor.
Alasania questions government’s budget decisions
Mr. Alasania’s resignation was not only because of the lack of interest in Eurovision from the authorities. He was also fuming because of the handling of NTU’s budget. The government included the Eurovision budget into the broadcaster’s usual amount. This means that NTU will have to survive the rest of the year with only seven million euros. As he explained:
The government (through the Ministry of Finance) have included the Eurovision into the annual 2017 budget of the National Public Broadcasting Company.
Thus, out of €42.8 million prescribed by the law for the development of the Public Broadcaster in 2017, the government takes away €16 m for the Eurovision costs, €8.9 m as payment for transmission, €5.3 m by taxing and the city takes €1.6 m through utility bills. Another €4m goes for international activities (Olympic Games, world championships, etc.).
What remains is €7m. Authorities, are you serious?
So what can we deduce from all this? Is Eurovision 2017 in risk? Well, not right now, but without a renewed interest on the government’s behalf, things could get seriously messy.
What do you think of Ukraine’s handling of Eurovision? Do you agree with Alasania’s comments? How should the new director act once they’re named? Share your feelings in the comment section below!