Is Israel's Eurovision in danger due to a funding crisis?

Kan - pointing finger at gov't - has until Tuesday to pay deposit or forfeit hosting competition

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August 14, 2018 01:44
3 minute read.
2018 Eurovision winner, Israeli Neta Barzilai, performed for the WeWork Creator Awards ceremony in J

2018 Eurovision winner, Israeli Neta Barzilai, performed for the WeWork Creator Awards ceremony in Jerusalem on Wednesday. . (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Israel’s two-week extension to secure hosting the 2019 Eurovision song contest expires Tuesday. If KAN, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, doesn’t cough up the €12 million deposit by then, Israel will likely forfeit hosting next year’s competition.
As the clock ticks down, IPBC officials blamed the government, while politicians pointed fingers at KAN, and at each other.
“If the government doesn’t give us the money, there won’t be a Eurovision,” a KAN spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

But Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Likud MK David Bitan said Monday morning that the ball was in KAN’s court.
“The Eurovision is dependent only on the IPBC,” Kahlon told Ynet. “Nobody else is stopping it on the way. If the IPBC doesn’t want it, then the Eurovision won’t happen.”

Bitan told Army Radio on Monday that he doesn’t think the Eurovision will take place in Israel next year: “KAN [officials] aren’t willing to take a loan. They aren’t willing to make the deposit.”

Sources at the public broadcaster said the situation is more complicated.

“The IPBC can’t fund the production of the Eurovision competition from its budget,” a spokeswoman for KAN said in a statement Sunday night. “The budget is totally transparent and covers by law the activities of three TV channels and nine radio stations as well as its digital activities.”

KAN, whose 2018 budget stands at NIS 747 million, said it is “required by law to invest in content and original productions all year long.” The public broadcaster added “almost every other country given the privilege to host the Eurovision contributes to its budget,” earning the investment back with both tourism money and global exposure.

“All of our attempts to find a common solution have been ignored,” a KAN spokeswoman said Sunday, “and the government’s decision will unequivocally lead to giving up the right to host the competition.”

KAN sources have said that even if it paid the €12 million, it can’t come up with the remaining funding for the competition alone, and would end up forfeiting the deposit and end up illegally in debt.

The IPBC said Monday morning that it is urging the relevant decision makers to sit together and decide on a budget with the Ministry of Finance.

On Monday night, the European Broadcasting Union – which is expecting the €12 million deposit by Tuesday – said it is still working with KAN, but prepared for any outcome.

"The EBU is working closely with KAN ahead of tomorrow’s deadline, on advancing arrangements for next year's Eurovision Song Contest in Israel," a spokesman said. "If a situation ever arose in which a broadcaster could not fulfill their requirements there are always contingency plans in place."

Spokespersons for both the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Communications did not respond to requests for comment by Monday evening.

Labor leader Avi Gabbay told Army Radio on Monday afternoon that Kahlon could solve the funding crisis if he wanted to.
“This is political. It’s part of the fight [of] the government [which] wants to delegitimize the IPBC,” Gabbay said. “I’m calling on Kahlon to solve this problem – the State of Israel can easily give a security deposit on something this important.”

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni called instead on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to find a solution.

“[Israel’s hosting of] the Eurovision is in danger of being canceled and it will be on your head,” she addressed Netanyahu on Monday. “The public will not forgive you if we lose this exciting event over your petty and political quarrel with the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation.”

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