It was the document which led to Ukraine’s unruly exit from Eurovision 2019. But what was contained in the contract that MARUV refused to sign and which two more acts rejected? During a crisis-management press conference yesterday, broadcaster UA:PBC gave its side of the story.
Ukraine Eurovision 2019 withdrawal press conference
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Posted by ??? on Thursday, February 28, 2019
The TV network was represented by UA:PBC chairman Zurab Alasania, head of entertainment Oleksandra Koltsova, Ukrainian head of the delegation Oksana Skybinska, and head of PR Victoriia Sydorenko.
Ukraine’s past Eurovision contracts
Contractual woes first began after MARUV won Vidbir 2019 — Ukraine’s Eurovision selection. As has been the case since 2016, the competition was organised by private broadcaster STB. As soon as filming wrapped, public broadcaster UA:PBC stepped in.
In 2018, however, the contract was only between MÉLOVIN and STB. This contained all the EBU requirements. Financial matters were agreed between STB and the singer’s team.
The document offered to MARUV was closer to what past acts signed, including Jamala in 2016 and Mariya Yaremchuk in 2014. However, there were some significant differences.
Ukraine Eurovision 2019 contract – the differences
Firstly, UA:PBC insist that the winner’s contract was prepared in advance of the Vidbir final. Regardless of which act won, the end document would have remained the same.
The main innovation in the 2019 iteration was the rule banning performances in Russia.
The financial penalties were also new.
“The penalties this year also appeared for the first time. Because we saw certain risks for the company in case of the breach of a contract. We already had a situation with [Russia’s 2017 singer Julia] Samoylova when she was not allowed to Ukraine, you know about it. After that, the company was held financial responsible. We wanted to protect ourselves in the situation with lack of finances”.
“I’m a musician, not a tool for the political arena”
MARUV’s “music before politics” sentiment echoed around the world. However, the infamous contract never told the singer what she should say, just what she couldn’t say. In defence, the broadcaster felt that it was necessary.
“With MARUV, we had a conversation about the diplomatic mission of an artist from Ukraine. We did not impose on her what to say, rather it was about what she shouldn’t be saying. During seven hours of negotiations, we heard what and how she can speak. For the very first time we have faced a person with such a worldview, an artist who is already an international artist who wants to associate herself with the world, freedom.
The “Siren Song” hitmaker didn’t plan to cancel any concerts as she was already bound by existing legal agreements.
The artist was not going to cancel her concerts in any country, as they are written in terms of her contract with the label: there can be concerts everywhere Warner is based and she did not see any obstacles in continuing her concert activity all over the world. Her interpretation seemed risky for the country. If an artist takes part in an international competition, then it’s just about going out there and singing a song. If the artist has certain doubts, then speaking about them is threatening first of all to the artist himself.
While not wishing to control the songstress, the delegation maintained it was worried about what she might say at Eurovision.
We did not have the desire to reboot someone and convince them that the way they like Ukraine is wrong, and the correct way is the other. We have no right to dictate to people how to love their country. But imagine what it would be like if you heard at a press conference the same statements that you’ve heard during the national selection. We do not want to burden the artist, but this is an international arena where any statements could have been made”.
Negotiations: 7 hours for MARUV, 25 minutes for MÉLOVIN
UA:PBC executives are adamant that they wanted to reach an agreement with MARUV. Why else would they spend seven hours negotiating a contract? In 2018 it only took 25 minutes to convince MÉLOVIN to sign the dotted line.
Ultimately, there were a number of key issues which couldn’t be settled. Many of these were requirements set out by the EBU — Eurovision’s governing body.
In her turn, the main disagreement from MARUV was to the requirements of the EBU – and we can not change these conditions in any way, even if we would have really wanted. If we didn’t want to reach an agreement from the very beginning, we wouldn’t have spend 7 hours on negotiations, negotiations with MELOVIN took 25 minutes.
Despite the unfortunate outcome, TV bosses believe they did the right thing.
Understand that, in the end, in a situation with MARUV, we came to a complete agreement. The artist herself believes that for her such an outcome is even better. We also believe that we did the right thing, since the risks for the country were rated higher. This is still an international arena, and UA:PBC would have to be responsible for some statements there”.
Contracts for Freedom Jazz and KAZKA
After talks collapsed, Vidbir podium finishers Freedom Jazz and KAZKA were offered similar deals. Both declined. An offer was not made to fourth-place Brunettes Shoot Blondes, although the band stated that it would have rejected any proposal.
“When journalists and bloggers, and MARUV’s supporters in particular started to dig dirty facts about all the acts and make them public… maybe it’s good that we reached only the third place and didn’t invite everyone.”
In the same press conference, it was also confirmed that Ukraine would return to Eurovision 2020. However, such plans would be placed on hold if Russia were to host the contest.
Additional info via ESCKAZ.
When UA:PBC comes,
They come with a contract.
They it political,
and say they’re not guilty
Oh my god I love this!
On point. Thank you, I laughed 😀
Russia One, Sergey,
It’s getting exciting…
I have read all statements from the people managing UA:PBC and my only thought is that they should resign due to lack of competence and credibility as well as the humiliation of the Ukrainian artists and public. I cannot believe that Ukrainian taxpayers are paying for these people’s salaries.
I agree that all people at UA:PBC involved in decision making in this mess should be fired. That’s the only way to swallow the withdrawal and comeback next year. These should not be in position to handle anything Eurovision related. And frankly, not entertainment related within ukraine either.
The Ukrainian government has long been trying to close this channel precisely because of incompetence, but they always start yelling about the oppression of freedom of speech …
They wanted to send a politician to Eurovision and she said no.
They disgust you all and say they are not guilty?not guilty.
The problem in here is that they made her prioritize what she does music or politics, she choose music.
So the contract was new from this year and the artist refused it. In the past contracts were find. So definitely the problem come from the artist. No more to say about how they play with the words and make their statement looking softer. It doesn’t take 7 hours if the only point was concert on Russia.
Now we have the sides of Maruv and the broadcaster but what about NBC? Didn’t they have relations with UA:PBC in order to be on the same page before Vidbir ends?
Well, it might take 7 hours, because of concerts in Russia. That’s huge amount of money she would lose.
Maruv said cancelling the concerts in Russia was not the problem.
I suppose the problem was that after all the authoritary rules the broadcaster doesn’t offer her any financial support back. She would’ve had to do all the things related to her Eurovision performance with her own money. I mean, why tf to introduce so much rules if you can’t offer anything back?
Agreed Veta. I’m sure Maruv was ready to cancel Russian concerts but as a leverage for other parts in the contract she would certainly not agree to – like not to have creative freedom and having to report to UA:PBC – she would have to report to EBU but that wasnt what was in the contract. UA:PBC wanted a say on that too. And that’s only an example.
You have to be very unprofessional, pathetic, and cold hearted, to invite artists to participate that you dont like, only to humiliate them on live tv. The twins Anna and Maria were asked to go against their parents, Jamala did what we all know to maruv, the host was joking with an attack to an artist on the metro. What a disgusting selection and people involved.
The host justified himself to Khayat that he had to make jokes in order to create humoristic atmosphere… And now the broadcaster is making the same. All we can assume, that the clauses of the contract were too ambiguous, which have double interpretation. And now the broadcaster is telling one of this two interpretation. Manipulative, isn’t it?
The problem was that UA:PBC outsourced Vidbir to STB, who had a different contract without any political implications (because it is a commercial broadcaster).
OMG. If someone watched Vidbir, he/she exactly knows that there already had been unfriendliness towards Maruv from the 1st semifinal. That was obvious. And Maruv was publicly humiliated in the finals by stupid questioning. They could discuss all political issues off the contest. This was enough to reject the participation in ESC, and Maruv did absolutely right, as she has a feeling of pride. We don’t know, who we must believe in this situation. But it is not logical if you have won the National Selection and you decide then just to reject your participation. Of course, this all was… Read more »
Regardless of intentions, MARUV and her management found a good excuse. UA: PBC are to blame for changing the contract halfway, not reaching a compromise and not making the talks fully public.
Maruv have 60k votes from 170k voted. This was announced at a press conference.
Oscar-winning drama “The story of MARUV – Victim, b*tch or both?” soon in your cinema!
I see it differently. This is not about Maruv. This is not about politics. This is not about politics. This is about an incompetent broadcaster who changed the rules of the game halfway. The rest is smoke screen.
that’s what happens when you try to outsource your duties and responsibilities (UA: PBC giving Vidbir rights to STB)
We could easily rename the drama. “Game of Incompetencies” maybe?
Stop calling women bi*** challenge, do that challenge!
Thank you for JOURNALISM ? It’s good to hear both sides of the story before jumping into conclusions and throwing accusations. It was exactly what I suspected: the broadcaster just wanted to protect themselves from fines THEY would have to pay, if Maruv broke the EBU rules. There’s clearly a lot of things we don’t see, but I suspect not a single party is innocent here. I hope we’re going to see more professionalism in the future, because with Ukraine not participating, everyone lost, especially the fans 🙁
In this case Maruv did nothing wrong
With the exception of being somewhat disingenuous in painting UA:PBC as the villain..
I hope that William and Deban are planning to record a video giving the Ukrainian broadcaster’s side of the story. Their initial video was totally biased towards MARUV, without questioning her claims.
What happened in Ukraine? Their politicians hate Russia very much, but their singers like to sing in Russia so they’re not on the same page.
Veronika, spot on. I mean its strange that no one else hates Russia in this case. Everyone says its politics, but its not politics its 5 year old war conflict with 13,000 casualties. So Ukrainian national broadcaster wants no diplomatic relations with Russia which is understandable. On the other side there’s Maruv and I guess she needs money from the concerts.
Just one question: then why did you invite her? Second question: why did you not tell her about the contract when you invited her?
1. MARUV was invited to balance out Kazka who were thought of as the heavy favourites. Also to draw crowds and viewers.
2. Because this year’s edition was supposed to be the crowning of Kazka (who have a clear position and no live shows in Russia), UA:PBC didn’t think clauses through and scored a spectacular own goal.
Just the fact that they didn’t outline that there is a contract to be signed before Vidbir, even though it was allegedly prepared before Vidbir, is very shady.
The problem was UA:PBC (a public broadcaster) outsourcing Vidbir to STB, who had a different contract without any political implications (because it is a commercial broadcaster).
Public broadcaster has specific restrictions in comparison to the commercial ones.
I don’t understand why they keep dragging this on. They just make things worse for them rather than convince anyone they are in the right. It’s kind of like you already dug yourself a grave… and now you just dig deeper and deeper.
They didn’t say “we are right”. All they did was explaining their side of the story.
I have watched that press conference and I can say that UA:PBC is not blaming Maruv for the mess. Actually it’s the other way around: they defended her multiple times during the conference.
Also they trolled ukrainian society about it’s views on a ‘concerts in Russia’ subject, and a lack of defined ‘rules’. Because there is no consensus on this matter.
Why would the official broadcaster troll? They can’t, they’ve said that society is divided and the situation only brings more heat and political play over it.
As of lack of ‘rules’ they’ll be more active about it throughout the year in order to figure out something clear.
Long story short: UA:PBC wasn’t happy with MARUV not being adamant about defending Ukraine against Russia in live show, and saying she prioritize music and peace above politics. They were afraid she’d remain neutral in press conferences, and even have close ties with Sergey as mentor-mentee kind of relationship, which entirely clashes with Ukraine’s point of view by simply stating: “We did not impose on her what to say, rather it was about what she shouldn’t be saying.”
“In her turn, the main disagreement from MARUV was to the requirements of the EBU – and we can not change these conditions in any way, even if we would have really wanted.” What requirements exactly? Feels like UA:PBC uses blurry statements just to appear right. Not a fact given here. Sad.
Btw, this quote: “For the very first time we have faced a person with such a worldview, an artist who is already an international artist who wants to associate herself with the world, freedom.” Isn’t that supposed to be a good thing?
Damn, you can tell how serious Eurovision is for some Eastern European countries, they even send the chairman to a press conference… I doubt the chairman of the BBC or of France 2 even know who they are sending to Eurovision, lol
Before I get a bunch of haters on me: this is not a criticism of Eastern Europe or of Ukraine, which is one of my favorite Eurovision countries. Just pointing out that Eurovision seems to be bigger in some markets.
Zurab Alasania has his share of Eurovision drama during the early months of preparation for Kyiv’s hosting of the contest (resigning from his post in what was then NTU after initially not getting the needed funds to effectively organize the contest as NTU was being reorganized into UA:PBC) so he’s part and parcel of this.
Why is the broadcaster blaming MARUV, when the same contract was rejected by both Freedom jazz and Kazka. Maybe they are not the ones on the right side of history…
They didn’t see the contract. They rejected the proposal itself.
They rejected because of the public and media bully. It didn’t have anything to do with the contract.
FJ rejected it because they’ve got the tour. Also it’s been said that the bloggers and fans of Maruv that dug out information about other artists dates created troubles to those (and their agencies) so it’s motivated broadcaster to stop searching for a replacement.