This is the story of the massive deficit of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest

The 2014 Eurovision Song Contest ended up being three times as expensive as planned. The parts involved are currently throwing mud at each other and very few media are able to understand what is going on. DR is being blamed for wanting a too extravagant show, but it is not that simple. 

HCC (Host City Copenhagen) was set up with Wonderful Copenhagen in charge together with the municipality of Copenhagen, the region of Copenhagen and REDA, the owners behind Refshaleøen where the B & W arena is located. HCC made the agreement with Danish broadcaster, DR, that they would take care of everything not involving the three Eurovision shows itself. The broadcaster was only responsable for the actual shows.

Already in the leading up to the contest it became clear that HCC had underestimated the costs of making the old ship yard into a Eurovision arena, just as they had forgot esssintial posts in their budget. Now it turns out that it became even more expensive than anyone could have imagined. HCC operated with a budget of 34,6 million dkk. The final cost ended up being 112 million dkk. 

The major reason for the increase was the arena itself. HCC had estimated it would cost them 18 million dkk to make it ready. Instead it ended up costing nearly 90 million dkk. And this is where the mud throwing comes into it. HCC blames DR for at a very late point changing their mind about what they wanted from the arena. The three Eurovision shows did look fantastic this year, but was it due to that HCC was unable to keep the budget? No.

Various media are quick in blaming DR for this, but fact is that DR did stick to their own budget for the three shows. Wonderful Copenhagen admits that they don’t have experience with building projects and as such do have some responsibilty, but they think that they at a very late point was informed about that DR wanted three carrying pillars removed in order to do panorama shots over the audience. For the non experienced Eurovision viewer it can sound like DR suddenly wanted some extravagant which wasn’t needed, but that is not the case. 

At the end it is EBU, the European Broadcasting Union, deciding the arena as they need to approve what is suggested by the broadcaster and the host city. Those shots over the audience are an essiental part of the TV production, and it is clear that EBU at an early point would have made aware of that their approval of B & W hallerne as Eurovision arena depended on those three pillars being removed. It simply wouldn’t have worked without – and as such it can’t be something unnessary DR demanded at the last moment.

It has previously been out as well that HCC in their original budget had forgotten several posts and under estimaded others. MetroExpress listed some of these:

Item  Budget in dkk  Actual cost in dkk 
Security  1.250.000  8.326.687 
Sewer and plummer work  Not on the budget  6.832.881 
Cleaning  Not on the budget  2.908.998 
Seating stands in arena  2.500.000  5.497.775 
Heating & Aircondition  400.000  10.035.668 
Packing down  Not on the budget  1.543.929 
Cables for TV transmission  500.000  13.951.007 
Generators and diesel  1.350.000  11.308.728  
Electricity  Not on the budget  3.366.681 

On top of this comes then the three carrying pillars which weren’t on the budget and also salary for builders as they had planned on using voluntary work for this. There are a lot of volunteers in work when it comes to the Eurovision Song Contest, but for the actual building work the unions went againt this method and forced HCC to pay.

Fans and media who went to the Eurovision Song Contest for the two weeks complained a lot about lack of cuttlery in the café, bad transportation in terms of shuttle busses not running that frequently, in particular the first week, lack of outdoor planning which turned the entire area into a mud pile after raining and things like that. It is clear that HCC ran out of money, just as the numbers tell. DR operated with a seperate budget for the three shows. A budget they managed to stay within – and produced some fantastic shows that looked amazing on TV.

Today Tuesday, DR sent out a press release where media director Gitte Rabøl says:

"When we had to choose venue we had some very specific requirements from EBU regarding the venue, and we of course demanded guarantees that these were made. Copenhagen gave DR all these guarentees". She continues: "The work was clear from the beginning: HCC were responsable for everything regarding the venue including the building and the running of it in relation to transportation, logistic, temparature, safety, interior etc. DR were responsable for the three shows. We are very sad for Copenhagen. It is a very bad aftermatch for an otherwise great show. DR is confident that a solution will be found".

DR gave us the best Eurovision Song Contest in many years. HCC didn’t have any Eurovision experience, didn’t seek help and as such things on their end didn’t all quite work and at the end became three times more expensive as planned.

Source: DR, MetroExpress, EkstraBladet, EuroVisionary
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