Two countries with debt to EBU – two very different solutions

Just before this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, the Romanian broadcaster lost all access to EBU services as it didn’t pay its debt. Yesterday, the Bosnian-Herzegovina broadcaster avoided the same thing by reaching an agreement. In Romania, the government is now finally looking into paying.

With the forced withdrawal from this year’s Song Contest, Romania became the first country in the history of the competition to be disqualified due to financial issues. Over the years, broadcaster TVR accumulated debts in the amount of 15 million euros. TVR said that the money was on the way, probably hoping for the government to bail them out. The deadline therefore got extended until the 20th of April – but as no money came and the Romanian government refused to pay, EBU removed Romania from all member services, including the Eurovision Song Contest.

The Romanian government didn’t pay as it would go against Romanian law, but according to the website, they now plan a change of the law in order to make a state-funded rescue of TVR possible. They could have done that before, but maybe they didn’t believe that the EBU would actually cancel all of TVR’s access. The missed Eurovision Song Contest, and not the least, the loss of the broadcasting rights for the upcoming UEFA championship that starts this Friday and the outlook of losing the transmission of this year’s Olympic Games convinced the politicians in Bucharest to change the legislation in order to be able to actively pay the debts of the broadcasting company.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the Bosnian-Herzegovina broadcaster BHRT had made an agreement with the EBU. The broadcaster would pay a small amount, about 10% of the debt at first, and then continue at least until the 10th of July. As such the upcoming EURO 2016 championships which starts tomorrow will not be affected. Could Romania have made a similar deal and gotten at least until after the Eurovision Song Contest? Probably. The main difference between the cases here appears to be that BHRT all the way seems to have been working together with EBU in finding a solution, whereas it was clear that the Romanian broadcaster more worked against EBU. They didn’t initiative to find any of the money and instead kept delaying things.

Without the intervention of the Romanian state, TVR will continue to be excluded from all EBU member services and even from the union itself. In the event of a state-funded payment of the debt, the broadcaster could remain an EBU member and the country would have the opportunity to come back for next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

In Bosnia & Herzegovina things are looking brighter than just a week ago. They have seen that there is a will from EBU to help out, if they go a part of the way as well, which they have done. They have time now to sort things out, and a big TV event like EURO 2016 will still be shown to its TV viewers.

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