Late last week the EBU declared that Macedonian Radio-Television “no longer has access to our services until it pays off its debt.”

And today officials clarified their message, explicitly stating that FYR Macedonia will not be allowed to participate in Eurovision 2018 unless the current situation changes dramatically.

In a statement obtained by esctoday, officials said:

As a result of non-payment of debt, FYROM’s public service broadcaster Macedonian Radio Television (MRT) currently does not have access to the EBU’s 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. MRT will also not participate in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest as things stand but will continue to take part in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in November.

The news comes just a week after RTP revealed that 43 countries would compete at Eurovision in May. Assuming that FYR Macedonia was included among those 43 participating nations, the number is now 42 and will remain so unless the former Yugoslav republic manages to pay down (or at least negotiate) its debt.

Despite the loss of EBU member services, the country will compete at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017. Given the small number of participating countries, losing one might be seen as hurting the overall show. Furthermore it would seem unduly cruel to tell their young act Mina Blazev that she’s out of the competition just weeks before she departs for Tbilisi.

Will FYR Macedonia participate at Eurovision 2018? Not as it stands.

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

But last 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, FYR Macedonia’s Meta news agency reported that the debt amounts to at least 500,000 euros.

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

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 described 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.”

Déjà vu? Romania’s exclusion from Eurovision 2016

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.

What do you make of all this? Is the EBU right to act? Can FYR Macedonia pull its finances together and get back in the game? 

Read more FYR Macedonia Eurovision news

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56 Comments
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Apple Tree
Apple Tree
3 years ago

This is better than what happened with Romania, but we should ask ourselves why do you know about this in the first place? Do they need to be executed in the public square to be example for others?

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
3 years ago
Reply to  Apple Tree

Figuratively, I presume? 😀

Natalia
Natalia
3 years ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

The execution will take place tomorrow at dawn.They have chosen to hang by the neck. May God have mercy upon their souls.

mawnck
mawnck
3 years ago

“Despite the loss of EBU member services, the country will compete at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017. Given the small number of participating countries, losing one might be seen as hurting the overall show. Furthermore it would seem unduly cruel to tell their young act Mina Blazev that she’s out of the competition just weeks before she departs for Tbilisi.”

Rules, schmules, volume 2741386. These guys are just too wussy to put on an international song competition. They. Still. Don’t. Get. It.

malu
malu
3 years ago

I do believe Portugal tv has nothing to do with this. EBU invites countries, EBU knows everything, it has nothing to do with the host country. Portugal was just told the number 43, I’m sure Portugal can’t decide anything about that. Just like last year when EBU accepted Russia, and the problem was later when Ukraine intervened.

JD
JD
3 years ago

Hi, I created a Snapchat group for JESC fans between 12 & 20 years old. ?? Add odaymilybovta on Snapchat if you want to be in the group! ????

Siranush
Siranush
3 years ago

SCREAMING ;-;

EscAU
3 years ago

Hopefully they can sort it out like Romania did- better the situation arised now and not two weeks before the show like 2016. The only way we’ll see 43 in the next few years is if somehow everyone gets more money *slovakia* *bosnia&herzegovina* Kazakhstan magically comes on board

Colin
Colin
3 years ago

Such a shame 🙁 I am rooting for them to make it. At least, I hope they return stronger in 2019. So, it’s either 41 or 42, depending on Moldova. Somehow, I do expect them, although it is odd for them to be without any news till November.

sam
sam
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin

RTP confirmed 43 countries, so it’s 42 (or 43 still, im still hoping)

Nicola
Nicola
3 years ago

First time I’ve heard about this debt. How long has it been going on for? Hopefully not as long as Romania’s!

Jane
Jane
3 years ago

Let’s be real here, im surprised greece didnt have the same fate.

Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
3 years ago

I hope they find away, they’re a very interesting country in every sense and their contribution is always welcome.

Richardinho
Richardinho
3 years ago

On the bright side, there are still 42 countries at EV2018 – We wont be dancing alone!

conspiracy
conspiracy
3 years ago

Ukraine Left 2015 – Won 2016
Portugal Left 2016 – Won 2017
Russia Left 2017 – Won 2018?
Macedonia Left 2018 – Won 2019???

Shaunzers
Shaunzers
3 years ago
Reply to  conspiracy

lol Russia will never win… the EBU hates them

Cameron
Cameron
3 years ago

This could be good for Macedonia, you only need to look at Ukraine, Portugal and Bulgaria

Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
3 years ago
Reply to  Cameron

Yeah, no. That was a fluke… it’s not like a break will guarantee you automatic better results. San Marino took its break back in 2009-10 and came back flopping harder than ever.

Shaunzers
Shaunzers
3 years ago

that’s not necessarily true, they even qualified once

Cameron
Cameron
3 years ago

San Marino is a microstate and they never do well at Eurovision, due to their size, and they don’t have bloc countries and they still qualified in 2014 close to qualifying in 2013.

Azaad
Azaad
3 years ago

A shame, but at least they didn’t have to go through being cut after paying the costs of selecting an act and song.

And taking a year off did wonders for Hungary (7 years of straight qualifications with 3 top 10 placements), Cyprus (3 consecutive qualifications) Ukraine (victory) and Portugal (greatest quantifiable victory in ESC history).

At least they got to continue with JESC, although this might’ve been a reason why Minsk is already gearing up to host JESC 2018.

Cameron
Cameron
3 years ago
Reply to  Azaad

And Bulgaria and Croatia

Roel
Roel
3 years ago

Weird… no mayor Macedonian news paper, news agancy, the broadcaster itself or the European Broadcasting Union is writing this on their portals… So maybe it is just a hoax? (Hopefully?)

Erasmus
Erasmus
3 years ago
Reply to  Roel

I agree it’s super strange… I don’t think it’s a hoax, but it’s still super strange.

beccaboo1212
3 years ago

I’m disappointed that Macedonia is stuck having to withdraw from the regular Eurovision Song Contest in Portugal. 🙁

However, I’m very happy that Macedonia’s still allowed to participate at the Junior contest. 🙂

Ronda
Ronda
3 years ago

is EBU allergic to 43 or something??

Hada
Hada
3 years ago

Damn, I wanted 43 countries this year ?

not me
not me
3 years ago

EBU rules :
”A maximum of 46 Members shall be allowed to participate (the “Participating Broadcasters”). Members from a maximum total of 26 countries shall compete in the Final”

So participants will always be maximum 46, even if Turkey, Andorra, Slovakia, Monaco, Luxembourg,…will want to return, it is not possible for all of them? This is sad.

Ariso Light
Ariso Light
3 years ago

What if Macedonia wasn’t included as one of the 43 countries taking part? What if some other country is going to return or debut? What if this comment is pointless?

Teo
Teo
3 years ago
Reply to  Ariso Light

I believe Macedonia was included in that list of 43 participating countries. By then the Portuguese broadcaster couldn’t know about other countries’ debts for EBU… So it seems the Eurovision curse strikes again… 43 countries who became 42 in 20016, 2017 and it seems in 2018 as well. This is sad… But the good news is…now we’ve got equal number (18+18) of countries in each semifinal (I’m only kidding)…

Ariso Light
Ariso Light
3 years ago
Reply to  Teo

It’s so sad, isn’t it. Every year the news goes like this: “43 countries to take part. This is an equal record with 2008 and 2011!” Then the news goes like this: “This particular country can’t participate because of either debts or because their singer was banned from entering the host nation.”

Jo
Jo
3 years ago

They will be missed. Take the year off, pay the debts and come back stronger in 2019 or 2020.

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
3 years ago

Can’t the broadcasters work together to pay off such debts? I really don’t understand. This to me feels more like politics and less like money-related issues. Surely there are other broadcasters in Eurovision who have debts to the EBU? Journalists: It’s your job to get to the bottom of this. 🙂

Geo
Geo
3 years ago

Well, at least they’re announcing them 6 months before the contest, not in the very last moment, like Romania’s Ovidiu Anton (who promoted his song in 4 different countries and all in vain)…

olvr20
olvr20
3 years ago

Maybe it’s good for them to be absent. Just look at what happened with Bulgaria…

No Name
No Name
3 years ago
Reply to  olvr20

And Portugal, Ukraine, Poland, Cyprus, Hungary…

not me
not me
3 years ago

”Sports News Exchanges, the right to broadcast specific sporting events, legal, technical and research expertise and lobbying services”

Sport events strike again. Why do they take sport events? They are expensive and nobody watches them, really, unless is football. This is not even about ESC actually, is about those sport events that even if anybody is interested, will watch on Eurosport, not public broadcaster.

Cheesecaketeo
Cheesecaketeo
3 years ago
Reply to  not me

In germany nobody’s watching eurosport mess and everything is 100 times better with public Broadcaster.

not me
not me
3 years ago
Reply to  Cheesecaketeo

In some countries, the public broadcaster has the worst sport-commentators, I guess in the end is about that. People prefer to watch where are their favorite commentators.

Elmar
Elmar
3 years ago

So 42 it is (again). sad face.

Möhrant
Möhrant
3 years ago

A pretty sad situation to see Macedonia miss out next year. Hopefully they get their finances sorted and are back with a killer entry for 2019!

Amor
Amor
3 years ago

This is so true. Debts DON’T accumulate overnight, it seems that the EBU let them off easy for a bit but now wants them to be serious and pay off what they owe. At least they are telling them this months in advance and not just a few weeks before the contest. Also at least they can participate in Junior Eurovision.

rima
rima
3 years ago

Well at least the sanction came 6 months before vs 4 weeks before with Romania…

danielv
danielv
3 years ago

The EBU mafia strikes again…

Bernardo Pereira
Editor
3 years ago
Reply to  danielv

Though I understand your point, we cannot fault the EBU for this. If you have debts you should pay them or at least negotiate a way to do so. At the end of the day, this is larger than the Eurovision Song Contest. The broadcasting union is – like everything else – a business.

Example, you don’t go to the grocery store and buy milk and eggs without paying. They won’t let you take the eggs and milk home.

In this specific case, they cut you the possibility of broadcasting shows/events the EBU owns the rights.

Antonsen
Antonsen
3 years ago
Reply to  danielv

Surely it’s right that broadcasters pay their debts?

Bernardo Pereira
Editor
3 years ago
Reply to  Antonsen

When you have a debt of half a million euros, I’m sure you knew this was coming.

Bernardo Pereira
Editor
3 years ago
Reply to  Antonsen

Or even the possibility of being 22 million like the article states.

Amor
Amor
3 years ago
Reply to  danielv

You have to pay what you owe dude.

Frisian esc
Frisian esc
3 years ago
Reply to  danielv

What are you gonna say when you get put out of your home for not paying the rent? “The housing mafia strikes again.”

James
James
3 years ago

Hopefully, Macedonia sorts this out at the soonest time possible and perhaps take the time off to reassess their strategy for the contest in case they do get to return the following year (2019).

mad-professor
mad-professor
3 years ago

Do we actually know if Macedonia was included in the 43 countries? I’d imagine that RTP, as hosts, would be privy to that sort of information as it would affect their plans for the contest.

Bernardo Pereira
Editor
3 years ago
Reply to  mad-professor

I highly doubt that. Stockholm was not privy to Romania’s withdrawal. This is a situation that transcends Eurovision as a contest. It goes to the depths of the EBU, something much larger than Eurovision (the show). 🙁

Ayesha
3 years ago

I agreed.

mad-professor
mad-professor
3 years ago

That’s a shame. Hopefully MRT can sort things out soon!