Bosnia and Herzegovina last compete at Eurovision 2016, and have been unable to compete since 2017 due to sanctions from unpaid debt. Now broadcaster BHRT has confirmed that the sanctions remain. The broadcaster says they are still not in a good position to repay the debt.
In a statement to local TV channel N1, the broadcaster confirmed that they had been “under EBU sanctions since 2017 due to debts of around 6 million Swiss francs” — approximately 5.5 million euros.
The sanctions mean that BHRT cannot take advantage of EBU’s member services, including participation in the Eurovision Song Contest. It also means that BHRT can’t even broadcast Eurovision.
BHRT made it clear that as a public broadcaster, they did not have the ability to pay off the debt on their own. The broadcaster continues to look to the government for assistance. The broadcaster said:
“Unfortunately BHRT does not have the financial means to finance the participation of representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina in this most spectacular and expensive TV show in the world.”
The broadcaster relied on funding from citizens via the television licence fee, but they say this isn’t enough. Bosnia and Herzegovina viewers are supposed to pay only €3.80 per month — but only half the viewers actually pay their licence fee.
“Only with the support of the economy, state bodies, institutions, citizens and joint investment in a product called Bosnia & Herzegovina’s representative at the Eurovision Song Contest could we quickly expect Bosnia and Herzegovina to return to this competition because the Eurovision Song Contest is not just a competition for the best song, the Eurovision Song Contest is much more than that.”
However, the broadcaster confirmed that the EBU allowed them to screen last year’s Eurovision substitute show Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light.
Bosnia & Herzegovina’s EBU sanctions
Bosnia and Herzegovina last participated at Eurovision in 2016, when Dalal & Deen feat. Ana Rucner & Jala privately funded the entry “Ljubav je”. Prior to that, the country had previously participated at Eurovision 2012, before withdrawing due to financial difficulties.
In 2017, the Head of Delegation said that due to financial difficulties, it would be “highly irresponsible” for the broadcaster to participate at Eurovision.
In 2018, the broadcaster confirmed that they were now able to compete in Eurovision or Junior Eurovision as the EBU — a non-profit broadcasting union — had placed them under sanction due to outstanding debts.
At the time, an EBU spokesperson confirmed, “I am afraid that BHRT is currently denied access to all EBU services due to its high levels of debt to the EBU”.
This is not the first time that the EBU has sanctioned a member broadcaster. In 2016, Romania was disqualified from participating at Eurovision in Stockholm due to unpaid debts by the Romanian broadcaster TVR. The sanction was lifted after the government paid off TVR’s debts, and thus Romania returned to the contest in 2017.
In 2017, the EBU briefly sanctioned the Macedonian broadcaster MRT for the same reason. However, the sanctions were lifted a week later and FYR Macedonia participated in both Junior Eurovision 2017 and Eurovision 2018.
What do you think? Should the state government help BHRT repay its debts to the EBU? Who would you like to see represent Bosnia and Herzegovina at Eurovision?