IBA slammed for Eurovision selection

IBA slammed for Eurovisi

harel skaat 248.88 (photo credit: )
harel skaat 248.88
(photo credit: )
The Israel Broadcasting Authority came under attack Tuesday at a session of the Knesset Education Committee for the manner in which it selected Harel Skaat as Israel's representative to the the 2010 Eurovision song contest, a decision the government-sponsored body made earlier that day without having first consulted its board of directors. Following the stormy deliberation, the committee decided to transfer the issue to the State Comptroller's Office for further investigation. For years, Israel's representative to the Eurovision contest was chosen in a "pre-Eurovision" competition. Skaat, however, was selected without any preliminary screening process, and this year's "pre-Eurovision" will be devoted solely to selecting the song that he'll sing in Oslo come May. Tuesday's selection of Skaat was unanimous and appeared to merely rubber-stamp a decision made long beforehand - weeks of rumors had proceeded the official announcement that the Kockav Nolad graduate had gotten the nod. MK Alex Miller, one of the parliamentarians who attended the meeting, also questioned the fact that there was no tender to choose the broadcasting body that would produce the "pre-Eurovision" itself. "This thing looks like one big shady deal," Miller said. "The Eurovision contest is one of the only opportunities Israel has to cast itself in a positive light worldwide. The Broadcasting Authority's conduct in this matter is lacking; equal opportunity was not given to all artists and no one seriously looked into measures that could have increased [Israel's] chances at winning the competition." Poet Shimrit Or, the artists' representative to the session, took the side of due democratic process in coming out against the decision. "You're forgetting," she exclaimed, "that this is a song contest - not a singer contest. You've brushed aside the cultural element and [eliminated] the power of the public to be a part of selecting the song." Motti Shklar, the head of the Broadcasting Authority and the chair of the selection panel, brushed aside the accusations, asserting that the Eurovision was simply not worth all the brouhaha. "This is merely an entertainment competition. None of the other options we tried came to fruition - other artists refused to take part in the pre-Eurovision; we're unwilling to send singers who didn't serve in the army to the competition, and there's no choice but to lead the project with a single singer."