Last year Liechtenstein broadcaster 1FLTV revealed their new plans to participate at Eurovision 2019, as part of the principality’s 300th-anniversary celebrations. However, the European Broadcasting Union has now confirmed that they have not received a membership application from the broadcaster.
While 1FLTV has long had plans to participate in Eurovision, the broadcaster is not currently eligible as they are not members of the EBU.
And it doesn’t appear that they will be joining any time soon. A spokesperson for the EBU confirmed the news to fan site ESCXTRA, saying, “The EBU has not received an application for Membership from 1FLTV, Liechtenstein.”
But things were different in November last year. The 1FLTV had issued a statement saying that they intended to participate at Eurovision 2019. The broadcaster said it would be the “absolute highlight” of their programme of celebrations for the 300th anniversary of Liechtenstein’s founding.
1FLTV’s then editor-in-chief Peter Kölbel was optimistic that the broadcaster would join the EBU. He told local press, “We are in the negotiation stage and [the EBU] are in a very friendly atmosphere.”
He also said that while the estimated 350,000 Swiss francs (301,000 euro) membership fee might seem high, it was nothing in comparison to the other projects the government has supported for the 300th-anniversary celebrations.
While 1FLTV is a commercial station, its annual turnover is just 10,000 Swiss francs and it would require substantial subsidies in order to join the EBU and participate at Eurovision.
Tragically, Peter Kölbel passed away suddenly in February, after previously being treated for colon cancer. A 1FLTV spokesperson said that Kölbel’s death was a loss to the station and that “nobody will do it as well as he does.”
While the station said that plans were underway for finding a new programme director, no mention was made of continuing the EBU membership bid. As Kölbel was the main driver behind the Eurovision plan, there may no longer be anyone at the small broadcaster with the passion to take over the project.
Liechtenstein and Eurovision
Liechtenstein made their first attempt to participate at Eurovision in 1976. An entry was selected, Biggi Bachmann with her song “My Little Cowboy”. However, as Liechtenstein did not have a national broadcaster, they were unable to enter.
While most television in Liechtenstein is supplied from neighbouring Switzerland, in 2008, commercial broadcaster 1 Fürstentum Liechtenstein Television (1FLTV) was established. Since 2009, key station executive Peter Kölbel regularly expressed a desire for Liechtenstein to debut at Eurovision. The biggest hurdle has always been getting funding to pay the EBU membership fees.
With a population of around 37,000, Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in Europe. In the current lineup of countries competing at Eurovision, only San Marino has a smaller population.
What do you think? Should 1FLTV still apply for EBU membership? Should the Liechtenstein government subsidise their Eurovision fees? Share your thoughts below!