In September Macedonian broadcaster MRT confirmed its intentions to return to the Eurovision Song Contest 2018.

But on Thursday it emerged that the European Broadcasting Union would impose sanctions on FYR Macedonia owing to its existing debts both at home and abroad.

Citing an anonymous source within MRT’s Program Council, Macedonia’s Meta news agency reports that the debt amounts to at least 500,000 euros.

But that number could be far higher, as the news agency goes on to say that MRT’s total debt to “domestic and foreign trustees” amounts to nearly 22 million euros. Those owed money have not yet sounded the alarm, but the EBU is poised to impose sanctions.

Claire Rainford, the EBU’s Senior Communications Officer, issued a clear and direct statement on the matter.

“Unfortunately, Macedonian Radio-Television no longer has access to our services until it pays off its debt.”

Meta‘s source describe the sanctions as “catastrophic,” adding that state television “will not be able to broadcast the programs of any of EBU’s members, or sports matches, films, foreign shows, cartoons, or documentaries.”

In the opening sentence of their report, they make it clear that this could include the Eurovision Song Contest.

Déjà vu? Romania’s exclusion from Eurovision 2016

Naturally some fans are worried this could lead to exclusion from the contest.

In April 2016, just weeks before Eurovision, the European Broadcasting Union confirmed that it had withdrawn member services from Romanian public service broadcaster Televiziunea Romana (TVR) over unpaid debts.

That meant that Ovidiu Anton — who had spent weeks traveling Europe as part of his promotional campaign for Eurovision — could not compete at the contest.

The Romanian broadcaster had accumulated debts of over 14.5 million euros since 2007. Since 2010, the EBU had attempted to restructure the debt, but the broadcaster had not yet made the payments. The EBU said they had written to the Romanian government four times that 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.”

Romania has subsequently paid off its debts and rejoined the Eurovision family.

We’re crossing our fingers and retaining hope that the Land of Kaliopi will sort out its finances soon. The early and very public nature of this debt spat suggests that MRT has the time — and sufficient reason — to find a solution long before Eurovision. 

Read more Macedonia Eurovision news

26 Comments
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Cameron
Cameron
3 years ago

A year off may be really good for Macedonia. You only need to look at Portugal, Croatia, Bulgaria and Ukraine

Esc1234
Esc1234
3 years ago

Let’s hope they will be disqualified. However, its a great platform for their every year propaganda. Idk

AngieP
AngieP
3 years ago

Let’s not see Romania 2016 again. It’s sad.
Hope FYROM find a solution and stay at Eurovision.

Colin
Colin
3 years ago

The thing should be simple: Can Macedonia make all the necessary conditions to participate?

YES – Great 🙂
NO – Withdraw now, before the singer or the song has been chosen. Much more fair. Romania ’16 was humiliating for poor Ovidiu.

Personally I hope they can make it, but if they have to make a pause, at least do it before all the hype (Romania 2016, Russia 2017).

Denis
Denis
3 years ago

I always wondered how Macedonia could afford to compete all these years and Bosnia not? Especially since Bosnia withdrew because of debts?

Anyways, sometimes it’s good to take a year off and come back with a force! I think Macedonia should have withdrew in the past, just to figure out what they want with ESC

Leaf
Leaf
3 years ago
Reply to  Denis

The new government cut off the broadcasting fee and MRTV is funded fully by the state budget….. As of September.

sam
sam
3 years ago

one of my favorite countries <\3

Hada
Hada
3 years ago

The Curse Of The 43 Strikes Again.

I hope they find a solution so FYROM can be here next year and we have 43 countries.

Carmen
Carmen
3 years ago
Reply to  Hada

Agree, even tho 43 is not a record because it was in Serbia 2008 and Germany 2011. The record would have been 44.

beccaboo1212
3 years ago

I was pissed off when Russia was forced to withdraw from the regular Eurovision this year in Kiev. Russia has sent a lot of really good entries. I’m hoping Yulia Samoylova can still travel to Portugal. 🙁

Ugnius
Ugnius
3 years ago
Reply to  beccaboo1212

What do you mean ‘forced to withdraw’ ? They could have changed the singer to someone who hasn’t broken Ukrainian laws and participated sucessfully

Jo
Jo
3 years ago
Reply to  beccaboo1212

oh please, this has been settled, don’t bring it up again.

Karen Trezayetia
Karen Trezayetia
3 years ago

Another surprise withdrawal in. 2016-Romania, 2017-Russia and 2018- Macedonia! Its a pattern 42 countries each 3years, although originally meant to be 43

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
3 years ago

Oh dear. I assume that MRT is not the only broadcaster in debt to the EBU. If the EBU is on the warpath for 2018, this could seriously limit some countries’ participation.

About Macedonia’s past entries; they seemed to me to get better every year, and in 2017 their music video was actually my personal favourite! Cutting them off NOW seems coincidentally suspicious, to me.

Ronda
Ronda
3 years ago

LOL. This is ridiculous how we cannot get 43 countries already three years in a row.

Jo
Jo
3 years ago

Agreed.

Adam
Adam
3 years ago

This isnt fair.

Wait until 2 weeks before rehearsals after Macedonia have already picked their representatives and got their hopes up of competing. Wait to expel them until after their participant goes to Amsterdam, London, Madrid, and Tel Aviv. Wait until after the semi-final running order is decided.

Only then will it be fair. After all the EBU has experience with unfairly-timed expulsions.

Carmen
Carmen
3 years ago
Reply to  Adam

ha ha Ingrid Deltenre would have done that, but EBU doesn’t have that gem anymore.

Leena
Leena
3 years ago

I’m scared if Macedonia withdraws of JESC 2017 due this

beccaboo1212
3 years ago
Reply to  Leena

Hopefully Macedonia doesn’t get banned from Junior Eurovision. Macedonian kids shouldn’t be left out anyway.

Karen Trezayetia
Karen Trezayetia
3 years ago
Reply to  beccaboo1212

beccaboo1212, I agree

EscAU
EscAU
3 years ago

and ukraine 😛

Daniel
Daniel
3 years ago
Reply to  EscAU

And Bulgaria and Croatia!

Elmar
Elmar
3 years ago
Reply to  Daniel

and Hungary since their return in 2011.

KESC
KESC
3 years ago

Sad to hear this. In the past 3 editions, somehow, we did not manage to have 43 participating countries. The situation with Romania, then with Russia, and now it’s Macedonia’s turn. However, as Robyn just wrote, sometimes it’s just better to take one year off, and prepare better for the contest, just like Ukraine and Portugal did. Macedonia already made a huge step by sending Dance Alone, it was really a great entry. However, they should also focus more on the performances, which mostly brought them the bas results. 😉 Nevertheless, I still hope that they can join the party… Read more »

Carmen
Carmen
3 years ago

”The EBU said they had written to the Romanian government four times that year, without any response.”

Romanian government was run by the nephew of George Soros, a snake. I hope fyr Macedonia will do the right thing, whatever that is : pay or withdraw.
Will we have 42 countries again?