In May, the Maltese government announced it would conduct an audit of Eurovision 2021 spending by broadcaster TVM and the Malta Tourism Authority. Now minister Carmelo Abela has confirmed the investigation has found no irregularities.
The audit was instigated after reports in the Maltese media claiming that local broadcaster PBS invested public money on betting agencies.
The Times of Malta previously reported that an insider claimed that foreign nationals had been given money to bet on Malta. As a result of this, the insider claimed that Malta’s Eurovision 2021 bid rose to the top of the odds. This fact helped to advertise the Maltese entry as the “bookies’ favourite”.
It was also claimed that the Maltese Tourism Authority had gone over budget through spending on social media and sponsored content in media around Europe that promoted both Destiny’s entry for Eurovision 2021 and Malta as a tourist destination.
More than €650,000 was spent promoting “Je me casse” — €350,000 spent by the Malta Tourism Authority and €300,000 by the Public Broadcasting Services.
Maltese audit results will not be made public
The Malta Independent newspaper reports that the official audit did not find that money was spend on trying to manipulate the betting odds. Carmelo Abela told the newspaper, “The audit found that both the MTA and PBS worked within their own respective procurement regulations.”
The report itself has not been published. Abela told the Independent that there were restrictions on the publication of the report. But he claimed that both PBS and the MTA had followed “established respective procedures for procurement” relating to their Eurovision work.
This isn’t the first time Malta’s broadcaster has been criticised for their Eurovision spending. In 2016, PBS were singled out for spending an estimated €1 million on Ira Losco’s “Walk on Water” entry. This included €80,000 for Ira’s holographic coat and the pricey digital projection system. This staging element was heavily promoted but eventually dropped from the performance after it did not function as expected.
Despite Malta’s strong desire to win Eurovision — and the broadcaster’s deep pockets — a Maltese act has yet to take home the crystal microphone. Ira Losco placed 12th in the grand final, while Destiny finished seventh, both acts doing far better with the juries than with televoters. However, Destiny’s seven place finish remains Malta’s best Eurovision result in 16 years.
What do you think? Does a broadcaster need to spend big to win Eurovision? Should the EBU put a cap on spending? Tell us your thoughts below!