Eurovision in Israel saved as deal inked

Government, public broadcaster reach agreement over initial funding for contest

By
August 14, 2018 16:56
2 minute read.
People celebrate the winning of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 by Israel's Netta Barzilai

People celebrate the winning of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 by Israel's Netta Barzilai with her song "Toy" , at Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 13, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/CORINNA KERN)

 
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With hours left on the clock, the Finance Ministry and the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation have signed a deal to keep the Eurovision song contest in Israel.

The IPBC, also known as KAN, was scheduled to send a 12 million euro security deposit to the European Broadcasting Union by the end of the day on Tuesday, ensuring the competition will be held in Israel.

After a marathon day of negotiations, KAN and the Finance Ministry agreed to a deal in which the broadcaster will take out a loan to cover the deposit. As part of the deal, the ministry has promised that if for any reason the deposit is forfeited, the government will work to help KAN repay the loan.

“The IPBC believes that the government of Israel will do everything in its capabilities to ensure a worthy and respectable Eurovision and to stand by its commitments,” KAN officials said Tuesday after the deal was signed.

Sources from KAN said Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon vowed that the government would help fund the overall Eurovision production – and it expects him to live up to that.

Funding for the entire competition slated for May 2019, could cost up to 35 million euros – approximately NIS 150m. KAN’s 2018 budget stands at NIS 747m.

KAN added Tuesday that it will be working with the Treasury to come to a deal on the overall budget and funding sources.

Earlier this month, KAN asked for and received a twoweek extension from the European Broadcasting Union in which to pay the deposit. Since then, KAN has blamed the government for its inability to pay, and said taking out a loan could leave it illegally in debt. In turn, government officials said KAN is the entity responsible for the competition’s funding and that it did not act responsibly.
Prince William takes a stroll down Tel Aviv boulevard with Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai, June 26, 2018 (Reuters)

While the show's host city has not officially been announced, most reports indicate it will likely be held in Tel Aviv, though Jerusalem is still in the running. The European Broadcasting Union said earlier this year that the host city will be announced by September.

On Monday night, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai – who is up for reelection in October - posted on Facebook his own offer to save the Eurovision in Israel.

“The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality is willing to absorb the costs of the hall – a central cost in the event,” Huldai wrote. “Maybe this can help those who are digging in their heels instead of finding solutions.”

In response, a KAN spokeswoman said Huldai’s offer was irrelevant, since the host city is already expected to pay for the arena, and that figure is not included in the production budget.

A report in Ynet indicated on Tuesday – assuming the Eurovision is held in Tel Aviv – that the municipality will agree to shoulder additional costs of the event.

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