In a statement today, the European Broadcasting Union confirmed that it has withdrawn member services from Romanian public service broadcaster Televiziunea Romana (TVR) after the broadcaster clocked up debts of over 16 million Swiss franc (14.5 million euro). This means that as of now, Ovidiu Anton cannot compete in Stockholm with his song "Moment of Silence".
The EBU released a statement today detailing the situation. The Romanian broadcaster had accumulated debts of over 14.5 million euro since 2007. Since 2010, the EBU has attempted to restructure the debt, but the broadcaster has not made the payments. The EBU say they have written to the Romanian government four times this year, without any response.
The EBU gave the Romanian finance minister a final deadline of 20 April, extended to 21 April, requiring a down payment of 10 million Swiss franc (9 million euro). After the broadcaster did not respond, the EBU made the decision to withdraw member privileges.
In a statement, the EBU explained:
"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 EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre explained the decision:
"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 jeopardises the financial stability of the EBU itself."
Hitting Romania Where it Hurts
Coming just two and a half weeks out from Eurovision week, this decision is hitting Romania where it hurts.
Romania has always been a strong country in contemporary Eurovision, qualifying for the final every year since the semi-final system was introduced in 2004. The country has placed third twice, in 2005 with "Let Me Try" by Luminita Anghel & Sistem, and again in 2010 when Paula Seling & Ovi performed "Playing with Fire".
At the London Eurovision Party, we spoke to Ovidiu Anton about the situation. He was keeping positive:
"Until someone tells me, "Ovidiu, you're staying home," I'm just minding my business, I'm just preparing for Stockholm, I'm just taking each show at a time. So today is about London, today is about being here and singing for you guys. No worries, just rock and roll."
Do you think the EBU made the right decision dropping Ovidiu weeks before the show? Let us know in the comments below.