Israeli Public Broadcaster Warns Netanyahu: No Budget, No Eurovision

Netanyahu, Kahlon demanding that Kan public broadcasting corporation pay for next year’s contest out of its current budget

Netta Barzilai at the 2018 Eurovision final in Lisbon.
RAFAEL MARCHANTE/REUTERS

The Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation, Kan, sent an urgent message to the prime minister warning that if the government fails to budget production of the event and to deposit 12 million euros by Tuesday, the contest won’t take place in Israel.

Gil Omer, chairman of the board of the broadcasting corporation, sent an urgent letter on Sunday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he warned that if the government doesn’t transfer the required guarantee, a deposit totaling 12 million euros (50 million shekels or $13.7 million) by Tuesday to the European Broadcasting Union, the Eurovision Song Contest won’t take place here. 

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“In two days from now the Kan broadcasting corporation is required to make a deposit to guarantee that the competition will take place in Israel. This is a point of no return after which, if the deposit is not made available as required by the EBU, it will be impossible to change the situation, and the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest can’t be held in Israel,” wrote Omer. 

Kan explained a while ago that they would refuse to take an external loan to pay the deposit, because that could result in a deficit if the Eurovision contest isn’t, in the end, produced in Israel. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and the prime minister are vehemently refusing to transfer money to produce Eurovision in Israel, and are explaining that Kan will have to pay from its ongoing budget.

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However, in every country that hosts the contest, the government pays the production costs. According to estimates, producing Eurovision in Israel would cost about 35 million euros.

The Public Broadcasting Corporation is willing to give up the production of Eurovision, claiming that this is an isolated production which does not justify endangering the financial stability of the entire corporation.

According to Omer, a situation in which the 12 million euros are deposited by the corporation and afterwards the government refuses to transfer the money for production, would cause the corporation to incur a debt that doesn’t accord with the Public Broadcasting Law, which states that it must not take on debts that can’t be covered.

Omer explains in his letter that there are only two days remaining for transferring the 12 million euros, and if the money is not transferred, the song contest will take place in another country. “Although these things were explained in previous letters I sent, I would like to stress again that the corporation is unable to finance the production of the contest from its ongoing and transparent budget, which covers far broader activity than that of the [now defunct] Israel Broadcasting Authority, at significantly lower sums. To my regret, if the above-mentioned issues are not solved, we will be forced to inform the EBU on Tuesday, with great pain and regret, that we are forced to waive the right to host the contest in Israel.”