Earlier this month, fans were disappointed to learn that FYR Macedonia would not be part of the line-up for Eurovision 2018, due to financial issues. But today the EBU has confirmed that 43 countries will be competing in Lisbon — FYR Macedonia is back, baby!
No reason has been given for FYR Macedonia’s return. However, it can be assumed that broadcaster MRT and the EBU have come to a satisfactory agreement regarding the broadcaster’s debt issue with the EBU.
Earlier this year, broadcaster MRT was reported as having debt issues that would affect its EBU membership. Citing an anonymous source within MRT’s Program Council, FYR Macedonia’s Metanews agency reported that the debt amounted to at least 500,000 euros.
Late last month the EBU issued a statement on the situation with FYR Macedonia:
As a result of non-payment of debt, [FYR Macedonia]’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 implication was that while MRT was dealing with a debt issue, it would be possible to restore their member services if the issue was resolved. While participation in Eurovision is a significant part of EBU membership, it is not the only service offered. For many broadcasters, access to broadcast rights for major sporting events is the biggest perk of membership.
Back to 43
Eurovision 2018 host broadcaster RTP originally confirmed there would be 43 acts competing in Lisbon. However, when the official list of participating countries was revealed earlier this month, the list was down to 42 and FYR Macedonia was out.
The return of FYR Macedonia brings the total number of competing countries at Eurovision 2018 up to 43. This is the highest number of countries competing in Eurovision, matched only by 2008 and 2011. Back in those years, numbers were boosted by the regular participation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey, while in Andorra participated in 2008 and Slovakia in 2011.
Eurovision 2016 and 2017 initially had 43 participants, however, the respective suspension of Romania and the withdrawal of Russia brought the tally back to 42.
FYR Macedonia may be hoping that their return will give better results than the country has experienced in recent years. In the past decade, FYR Macedonia has qualified for the grand final only once, when Kaliopi placed 13th in the grand final with the rock ballad “Crno i belo”.
What do you think? Are you happy to see FYR Macedonia return? Share your thoughts below!