European Broadcasting Union ousts Romanian Television: Bye bye 2016 Eurovision Song Contest!

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The European Broadcasting Union has cancelled on Friday the membership of Romania’s public television TVR, following the non-payment of debts totalling 16 million Swiss francs, the eurovision.tv website announced.

“TVR will now no longer be able to participate in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest and will lose access to other EBU member services including the Eurovision News and Sports News Exchanges, the right to broadcast specific sporting events, legal, technical and research expertise and lobbying services. The decision was made after a deadline given to the Romanian government to make satisfactory arrangements to repay the debt expired on Wednesday 20 April,” reads a release on this website.

EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre said: “It is regrettable that we are forced to take this action. We are disappointed that all our attempts to resolve this matter have received no response from the Romanian government. In recent weeks the EBU has taken note of the Ministry of Finance’s suggestion that TVR may be placed into insolvency proceedings which may in turn lead to a profound restructuring of the broadcaster. The EBU is a not-for-profit association which represents 73 Public Service Broadcasters in 56 countries. The continued indebtedness of TVR jeopardizes the financial stability of the EBU itself,” adds the same source.

The Romanian act will be taken out from the running order of the second semifinal of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest on 12 May 2016. As the official CD for the 2016 contest has already been produced, it also contains the Romanian entry; the EBU has decided to keep the digital record of the song available for download and streaming, as a courtesy to the artist.

Romanian press and fans who had their accreditations approved will not lose them and will be moved to the International Delegation, which includes press and audience from non-participating countries. Tickets for the Eurovision shows sold to Romanians also remain valid, the website mentions.

 

Gov’t spokesman: No legal solution found to pay Romanian television debt to EBU

 

The government did not find a legal basis to pay the debt of the Romanian public television corporation TVR to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and thus secure the country’s participation in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, spokesman Dan Suciu declared Friday, following EBU’s decision to withdraw membership from TVR.

“There is no legal basis for this financial transfer, considering that the Romanian Television Corporation has multiple debts. It would be a matter of unfair competition and of notifying all the organizations that monitor competition on a European level. Unfortunately, we did not find the technical and legal solution, besides the financial solution (…). We are sorry to see this. The note has arrived to us only a couple of days ago,” Suciu explained.

“It is a years-old matter; it should have been settled years ago; these are years-old debts, and it’s somehow unfair to accuse this government of not paying a debt that has been collecting dust in various drawers for years,” he added.

Asked whether the EBU’s measure also involves TVR’s losing the right to broadcast other events, such as the European Football Championship, Suciu only answered that the government does not have a mandate to reform the public television structure.

 

Gov’t: Attempt to blame incumbent Gov’t for TVR situation, improper, groundless

 

The Government is regretfully noticing that a series of groundless accusations are circulated in the public space over its involvement or absence thereof in managing the situation at the TVR national public broadcaster.

In a press statement released on Friday, the Government says the problem of the outstanding debts of TVR is almost one decade old.

“In all these years, dealing with the TVR liabilities due to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) have always been postponed or neglected. The situation in which we find ourselves now is not the result of some decisions of the Government, and the attempt to blame the incumbent government is improper and baseless,” the statement reads.

The Government mentions that the national public television is an organisation operating under the authority of Parliament, which has to pick the management board of TVR.

“The Government is expecting a decision to this end so as to have a decision-making partner for all the executive aspects of the TVR activities. The fact that after more than one month since the commencement of the process there is still no management to take up the responsibility for the executive decisions regarding TVR makes impossible any restructuring project or clarification of TVR’s financial state,” the Government argues.

At the same time, it says the situation of TVR has been reported to Parliament as early as the beginning of the current year and after meeting of the members on the culture committees and TVR as well as governmental representatives a conclusion was made that the Government will come up with solutions for legislative modifications that will streamline TVR and manage the problems of TVR’s outstanding debt.

Given the context, “The Romanian Government, through the Finance Ministry, will inform EBU on the legal situation of TVR and the existing legal framework, where operational reorganisation that would allow the settlement of debts is impossible to achieve in the period immediately ahead.”

The Government is thus calling on all the organisations that manage the fate of the public broadcaster for active and responsible involvement to avoid perpetrating the difficulties facing TVR.

 

Romania’s Ovidiu Anton bitter over exclusion from Eurovision song contest

 

Singer Ovidiu Anton (photo), who should have represented Romania in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, commented on Facebook the decision of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to cancel the membership of Romania’s public television corporation (TVR), which involves his elimination from the contest.

“Dear friends, I have finally received the official communication. I am trying to smile and not get carried away, but it is unfair. I am still the same, the same honest artist, same fighter that won fare and square both from the jury and from the public’s vote… but yet, I have to declare myself ‘defeated’…. by whom? Why? In fairness?… I don’t know how to put it nicely, so I better abstain,” Anton wrote in the English part of a bilingual post that also states approximately the same in Romanian.

 

Finance Ministry: Officials assessing options to reorganise public TV broadcaster

 

Officials are assessing several options to reorganise the Romanian Television Broadcasting Corporation (SRTv), so that it may be supported by the Government in compliance with the state-aid legislation, the Public Finance Ministry (MFP) pointed out in a press statement on Friday.

TVR representatives had a technical meeting at the Public Finance Ministry, following the announcement that Romania was excluded from the Eurovision song contest. The talks focused on the outstanding debt of TVR to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

The TVR representatives underscored they paid the participating fee to the contest this year, however having failed to pay the due debt installments to the EBU.

“At the end of the meeting, the MFP representatives sent a letter to the EBU board pointing out that although the Romanian Television Corporation is defined by law as an autonomous public service, with editorial independence, conducting its activity under Parliament supervision, the MFP organised a series of meetings with SRTv at its headquarters and participated in the talks within Romania’s Parliament culture committees, to assess the situation and identify possible solutions,” the statement reads.