Earlier this week Ukraine’s state broadcaster UA:PBC revealed that it had hired a lawyer after its 15 million euro Eurovision guarantee had been frozen in Geneva.

And on Thursday morning it seemed pretty clear that Ukraine won’t be getting all of that money back, as the European Broadcasting Union announced that Ukraine’s broadcaster will face a serious fine over its ban of the Russian contestant Julia Samoylova and delays in the organisation of this year’s contest.

“As a result of this, attention was drawn away from the competition and the brand reputation of the Eurovision Song Contest was endangered,” the EBU said in a statement.

“Therefore the contest’s steering committee … has recommended that UA:PBC should receive a substantial fine, in line with the rules of the competition.”

The steering committee — also known as the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group — did not specify the amount.

However, Zurab Alasania, the head of the Ukrainian broadcaster, has said on television that the fine could be up to 200,000 euros.

The fine is likely based on the country’s participation fee. Members of the Reference Group have told wiwibloggs in the past that Armenia was fined “at least twice or maybe three times its participation fee” in 2016 following the Iveta Mukuchyan flag-waving controversy.

Speaking to Billboard earlier this month, Frank-Dieter Freiling, chairman of the Reference Group, made it clear that Ukraine had not acted according to its earlier guarantees.

“We had a promise in writing and orally from the prime minister down that everyone was welcome at the song contest,” he says. “We were disappointed Ukraine didn’t live up to their word.”

In recent months, Freiling has said that sanctions could range from a financial penalty to a three-year ban from the contest. In handing down a “substantial fine” it seems the committee opted for the middle road.

While the Julia Samoylova controversy has gripped international media in recent months, we should note that Ukraine is also being fined over the significant delays in organising this year’s contest.

It faced a series of organisational challenges and p.r. hiccups, including the resignation of the General Director of the state broadcaster last December; questions over transparency and the potentially illegal awarding of ticketing contracts; the initial refusal to offer fan packages; and mass resignations exactly three months before the grand final.

All of this added up to delays. Speaking to Strana in February, one source said:

“In fact, the schedule of tenders and identification of contractors have been practically derailed. It includes works planned on the main venue, Euroclub, PR, TV production, hotel service, catering etc. In general, there is nothing there yet, even the ticket agent was not chosen, the tender has been cancelled.”

Russia will not be fined

According to the TASS news agency, the EBU has issued Russia’s First Channel with a reprimand for not attending the Heads of Delegation meeting in March and for choosing not to broadcast the live shows.

However, and according to EBU spokesman Dave Goodman, the Reference Group believes that “there should not be any other action now” against Russian TV. That’s because, in their minds, Russia broke the rules owing to the fact “the Russian singer was not allowed access to the competition in Ukraine.”

Earlier this month Freiling said that Russia had played a part in the conflict and had set a “media trap” for its geopolitical rival.

Speaking to Eurovision.de, he said:

“There was a propaganda war between both sides, especially as the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian secret service let themselves get caught in a media trap from the Russian side. In the end, the broadcaster had to decide: go against their own people or against their international partners.”

Russia’s decision to withdraw from Eurovision 2017 — and not to air any of its live shows — left a dent in Eurovision ratings.

Overall viewership fell to 182 million — down from 204 million the year before. For better or worse, that reality may have shielded Russia from any potential ban, just as it may have protected Ukraine from a similar fate. The EBU has to punish misbehaviour, but it also needs to keep viewership up to justify continued investment.

What do you make of the sanctions against Ukraine? Do you think that the figure should be revealed publicly? And do you think that Russia should also have been fined for laying “a media trap”? Let us know in the comments box below. 

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Torq
Torq
3 years ago

This is quite typical for the country discriminating their ethnic minorities. Now they’ve appointed scape-goats to assume responsibility for nationalist rats in their own attic. http://www.articlesreader.com/initiatives-of-ukrainian-ministry-of-interior-to-worsen-life-of-ethnic-minorities-in-ukraine/

Thomas
Thomas
3 years ago

Pathetic! Ukraine has had the right to ban Yulia as she broke the law of Ukraine. But of course, Jon Ola got the right amount of money from Moscow and that’s why there’s no penalisation for Russia. He’s corrupted as hell! He should be removed from the position he’s helding. Let the Eurovision be transparent again!

Zaza
Zaza
3 years ago
Reply to  Thomas

Bulgaria’s participant, too, broke the Ukrainian anti-constitutional law. So what? Moreover, Yulia broke the law in 2015, she got banned in 2017. She could’ve entered Ukraine any time before April 2017. That’s what you should call PATHETIC. And by the way, Ukraine is still going to answer in Hague court for the genocide of the people living in the territory claimed by Ukraine.

Logical Creature
Logical Creature
3 years ago
Reply to  Thomas

Do you know any other country, banning people who have broken their laws, to cross its borders? Banning to enter the country has never been a punishment, it’s a way of preventing the people who have been to Crimea from entering to Ukraine, because Ukrainians have being told fairytales about “occupation” and life in Crimea for such a long time that they believe in them. The government doesn’t want its citizens to learn the truth.

Denis
Denis
3 years ago

Don’t see why the TV channel has to be punished though. They weren’t the ones who banished Julia. They weren’t the ones who came up with the law. it was the government, punish them?

If they allowed her to compete then they would have broken Ukrainan law. And I don’t think it looks good for a national broadcaster to break it’s own country’s laws..

Soy
Soy
3 years ago
Reply to  Denis

Exactly.

Darth Thulhu
Darth Thulhu
3 years ago
Reply to  Denis

The state TV channel is an *extension* of the government. Its work on Eurovision was directly overseen and directed by top ministers in the government. Just like most Eurovisions run by state broadcasters. The EBU can’t do a single thing to the Ukrainian secret service, nor to the Deputy Prime Minister, but the EBU *can* punish the station that buckled to the secret service, under the direction of the Deputy Prime Minister. Making the station pay a fine, or banning the station from participation, are the only ways the EBU can make the Ukrainian government and its ministers pay an… Read more »

Jonas
Jonas
3 years ago
Reply to  Darth Thulhu

“Just like most Eurovisions run by state broadcasters”

Examples, please?

Most state broadcasters certainly do not have “top ministers” running Eurovision productions.

Richardinho
Richardinho
3 years ago

I don’t see why Russia should be punished. There reaction was fairly reasonable: they were entitled to some kind of strike back against their exclusion. I honestly don’t know why Ukraine allowed this whole amateurish mess to happen in the first place. Anyone who says that Julia technically broke the law are completely missing the point: These things are ALWAYS fudge-able. My suspicion is that they were terrified of a Russian victory in Ukraine – and I think there was a chance Julia could have delivered it – There is no other plausible reason for their behaviour. On that basis,… Read more »

Teddy
Teddy
3 years ago
Reply to  Richardinho

Technically? It was a blatant breaking of the law! Not to mention Julia’s song was actually one of the worst of the year anyway. Russia calculated who they sent, knowing that a wheelchair-bound person would gain more smpathy, even though they knew by law she was banned from entering Ukraine.

Richardinho
Richardinho
3 years ago
Reply to  Teddy

So you’re saying that Russia baited Ukraine and Ukraine were stupid enough to take it?

Rodrigo & Lalo
Rodrigo & Lalo
3 years ago

For summer article, wiwibloggs can write about esc stars who lost a lot of weight.
Lindita, Polina Gagarina, 2/3 of Il Volo, all were obese.

Justin K.
Justin K.
3 years ago

A ban for either/both countries was out of the question since there is no way the EBU would deprive itself of more money. Ukraine won the right to host the contest, and the State decided to uphold its ban of artists–this was emphasized with a republication of the list in August, and a subsequent press conference in September. Jon Ola Sand said they were going to have “constructive dialogue”, but it seems nothing materialized between September and the March 12th announcement of Julia Samoylova. Yeah, Ukraine had other issues just as big as the artist ban (e.g. venue, organization, tickets,… Read more »

Justin K.
Justin K.
3 years ago
Reply to  Justin K.

Thanks to Wiwibloggs tagging everything, I was able to pretty quickly pull up all selection dates from 2012 (at least according to article publication date): 3/12/17 (Samoylova announced as singer, song “Flame is Burning” released) 3/5/16 (“You Are The Only One” released) 12/11/15 (Sergey Lazarev confirmed as singer) 3/15/15 (“A Million Voices” released) 3/11/15 (Song title “A Million Voices” confirmed) 3/9/15 (Polina Gagarina announced as singer) 3/19/14 (“Shine” released) 3/15/14 (Tolmachevy Sisters announced as act) 2/19/13 (Dina Garipova announced; song released within the week) 3/7/12 (Buranovskiye Babushki wins NF to go to Baku) 2014 is quite an anomaly since it’s… Read more »

Justin K.
Justin K.
3 years ago
Reply to  Justin K.

Viewership decline: geoblocking and maybe inaccurate figures from America and China. Even a 1% share each between two shows (as China aired all three) would have easily been 26m. American fans, like me, had to go to SVT to watch the SFs, but whether or not everyone figured it out may be hindering viewing figures. It would take roughly an 8% share from Russia to make up the viewership lost…

Darth Thulhu
Darth Thulhu
3 years ago

1) I’m glad that Ukrainian government agents and agencies got punished for failing to honor their legal obligations as hosts. The alleged Fine is in “slap on the wrist” territory, given the tens of millions each event costs, but it’s a significant slap on the wrist, commensurate with the failure to honor significant legal obligations. 2) I’m NOT glad that Russian government agents and agencies have NOT gotten punished for failing to honor their legal obligations to attend Head of Delegation events. The resulting Fine could reasonably be lower than the alleged Fine levied against Ukraine, since “not attending Head… Read more »

Tusán
3 years ago

At the end of the day, the West always spares Russia. The EBU is just as weak as the EU or any other organisation.

Julie
Julie
3 years ago
Reply to  Tusán

The West always spares Russia?? Surely this is satire.

If anything, we blame them for absolutely everything. “Hey Russia, your borders are too close to our NATO bases, mind moving them?”

ART
ART
3 years ago

Enough of russophobia.

Jordan
Jordan
3 years ago

EBU must fine Russia with minimum 500000 euros.

Julie
Julie
3 years ago

Hopefully that wraps up this whole ordeal in a neat little bow, but somehow I think this isn’t quite over. Ukraine set a dangerous precedent…we’ll see if the consequences of that realize in the years to come.

TJ
TJ
3 years ago

Great – the Ukranian STATE bans a singer – the Ukranian TV-STATION gets fined for that.
EBU doesn’t seem to know the difference between an independent state and a TV-channel as a member of an organization.
They are playing a political game here. Hypocrites, as they always declare themselves as being non-political.

Mark
Mark
3 years ago
Reply to  TJ

Their Russia bias is showing.

Ern
Ern
3 years ago
Reply to  TJ

The TV station is a national broadcaster, thus an agent of the Ukrainian government. The fine is justified.

Sasha
Sasha
3 years ago
Reply to  TJ

Yes, it’s a state broadcaster so they are government funded.

Ern
Ern
3 years ago

Ukraine got off easy.

The EBU should have fined itself for being stupid enough to allow the Ukraine to host.

As for Russia, I’m happy they didn’t get fined, and I hope they don’t. They were besmirched, and they retaliated appropriately.

Jo
Jo
3 years ago

Ukraine should be fined for that awful song.

Mark
Mark
3 years ago
Reply to  Jo

So should Russia for that song they gave Julia.

Jo
Jo
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Russia didn’t participate.
The whole Ukrainian selection was weak this year. Last year it was much stronger (specially Jamala and The Hardkiss).

Regina Phalange
Regina Phalange
3 years ago

Russia should also be punished in some way.

Mark
Mark
3 years ago

They get away with everything.

Wakeuppeople
Wakeuppeople
3 years ago

What for? For choosing the participant we want? For not agreeing to switch to some other artist because the host country likes to whine?

Charles
Charles
3 years ago
Reply to  Wakeuppeople

Missing-the-point-much?

Regina Phalange
Regina Phalange
3 years ago
Reply to  Wakeuppeople

Maybe for premeditating and doing your best to humiliate the host country?

Zebb
Zebb
3 years ago

As expected and that’s maybe a reason why those $15mln were arrested – to prevent possible denial… I think it may also prevent Ukraine from getting top5 with jury votes in coming years since those laws will always make a ‘trouble’ for russian broadcasters. I don’t exclude same jury issues for Russia though, having bunch of ex-soviet members with curated territorial conflicts + baltics with their restless sea and skies.

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago

I just want to say that amid all the mess about hosting leading up to the contest, Ukraine did a pretty good job on the technical level in the live shows. At least there weren’t any technical difficulties presented and the show was smooth and slick. Graham Norton praised the slick show too.

Mark
Mark
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian

Oh, like Graham Norton knows quality.

Iain
Iain
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian

Check the beginning of Estonia’s performance.

Hada
Hada
3 years ago

It’s sad and unfair that they’re punishing Ukraine, first of all because they were enforcing the laws of the country, but also because the sanction is against the tv channel, which has no say in who can or cannot enter the country. It’s not like they were the ones who banned Yulia.

But that’s EBU for you, they saw an opportunity to get some money and they did. I hope at least they also sanction Russia for their blatant stunt.

Mark
Mark
3 years ago
Reply to  Hada

They won’t. EBU loves Russia

2018 come already
2018 come already
3 years ago

EBU – Ukraine – Russia…all 3 are guilty in one way or another, EBU must accept that politics are part of LIFE, Ukraine was the host, let them have their moment, Russia as always with its tricks.
But I’m waiting an article about Israel, will it participate in 2018, and if not, will Lebanon want to join, like it wanted in 2005?

Catherine
Catherine
3 years ago

And this fine for such a big crime against EBU’s rules it’s just fun. Not seriously

Maclaren
Maclaren
3 years ago

Politics aside, this is the question of economic benefit loss. There were 20 million odd less viewers / voters as a result. This is 10% off from last year. If any CEO loses 10% of revenue or profit, he’d better look for compensation elsewhere

2018 come already
2018 come already
3 years ago
Reply to  Maclaren

Russia does NOT have televote.

Eugene
Eugene
3 years ago

it DOES

Catherine
Catherine
3 years ago

Ukraine must be ban from the contest.

Anne
Anne
3 years ago

I think the most fair thing would be to give both Ukraine and Russia some sort of punishment. It´s sad that Ukraine couldn’t´t guarantee that everyone would be allowed to participate, but Russia have some fault in this too.

(I also want to add that I have nothing against Ukraine or Russia. This is simply my opinion on this cause.)

Jonas
Jonas
3 years ago
Reply to  Anne

The EBU is union, set up to protect its members, the same as any other union. It seems perverse that they should seek to penalise one of their own members, UA: PBC, for something that they had no control over. They do not write the laws, or police the borders.

Jonas
Jonas
3 years ago

Well, this seems a bit ridiculous to me. The EBU agreed to host the contest in a country at war. At war! Yet they expect everything to go smoothly, which seems a lot to ask. Russia illegally annnexed a large part of Ukraine, substantially reducing their land territory…so this is really just small fry. It seems a but much to hold the Ukrainian broadcaster responsible for border control and the law of the land, something way out of their hands. I repeat – Ukraine are at literal war with Russia. Have the EBU forgotten that? I think that they did… Read more »

Chris
Chris
3 years ago

And what punishment will Russia be receiving? They were just as much to blame for the situation.

Jonas
Jonas
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris

The rule used to be that in order to compete, you had to broadcast the contest in the preceding year – so Russia would not be able to compete in 2018.

Does that not still stand?

EBU – the rule is….there are no rules!

Matt
Matt
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonas

Well, Croatia didn’t broadcast in 2015, yet it returned in 2016. That rule was abandoned a long time ago…

escsg
escsg
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonas

EBU allow broadcasters to break rules they created apparently…..
I love eurovision, but I am fed up with EBUs stupid decisions and the politics in this MUSIC contest.

esc1234
esc1234
3 years ago

Thank god ebu did something about the mess that happened in this years contest. Never before a country banned another, eurovision was, is and will ALWAYS be about coming together. Ukraine was totally unable to host that event. Both economically and morally. Bye felicia

Sergio
Sergio
3 years ago
Reply to  esc1234

And yet Ukraine did host the event, didn’t it?

esc1234
esc1234
3 years ago
Reply to  Sergio

yeah, and it was one of the worst contests ever.

Jonas
Jonas
3 years ago
Reply to  esc1234

No, it was not. It actually came together surprisingly well. Okay, they had to draft in Christer & co., but it could have gone much worse.

Evan
Evan
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonas

Na did you look at the winning song!! Definitely amongst the worst contests ever.

CookyMonzta
CookyMonzta
3 years ago
Reply to  Evan

The winning song with a record score, the one that would have scored well over 400 points under the previous scoring system? In a contest with 6 countries over 300 points (as opposed to 4 last year)?

Bart
Bart
3 years ago
Reply to  Evan

What does that has to the with the contest, your pathetic moron. How stupid can one get?

Aria
Aria
3 years ago
Reply to  Bart

Yes a song has nothing to do with a song contest. I agree with Bart.

Alexander
Alexander
3 years ago
Reply to  Sergio

The article clearly stated that it referred to all the mess before the contest.

Alexander
Alexander
3 years ago

You break Ukraine’s laws—you get sanctions from Ukraine.
You break ESC rules—you get sanctions from ESC.