Israel hosting Eurovision said in jeopardy with broadcaster short on funds

Kan corporation says it needs to put down €12 million by end of week but Netanyahu is reportedly refusing to provide the money

Winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest Netta Barzilai seen as she arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport on May 14, 2018. (Flash90)
Winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest Netta Barzilai seen as she arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport on May 14, 2018. (Flash90)

The Kan public broadcaster has warned that Israel was at risk of losing the right to host the Eurovision Song Contest if it failed to pay a €12 million ($14 million) security deposit within five days, Hadashot news reported.

The heads of the broadcaster reportedly sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Communications Minister Ayoub Kara warning of the threat after the government said it would not increase the corporation’s budget.

Kan warned that if the money was not received within five days it would have to cancel hosting the event, Hadashot reported Wednesday.

The Communications Minister reportedly offered a loan to cover the amount, but Kan rejected the terms and instead demanded that it receive an increase in its budget for this year.

The letter sent to the ministers warned that if the money was not paid within five days there was a real risk of the contest being held elsewhere.

“Such a move would leave the corporation with a budgetary deficit which contravenes the law and risks its extensive activities,” the letter read. “Therefore the board of the broadcaster addresses the relevant parties in order to quickly find a source to cover the required security deposit, as well as an undertaking to provide the appropriate budget to produce the competition,” Hadashot reported.

Netanyahu already warned that the state would not fund the contest. The total cost of hosting the Eurovision is estimated to be around €35 million ($41 million), Hadashot said.

Despite the fact that a committee has already been established to produce the event, the government has not allocated the necessary budget. Netanyahu has said that the annual budget for Kan is NIS 700 million ($190 million), and it must make do with that amount, including funding the Eurovision.

Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in two decades on May 12, as Netta Barzilai won with the women’s empowerment anthem “Toy.”

Barzilai’s win meant Israel would host next year’s Eurovision competition — an event expected to bring thousands of fans and worldwide exposure to the Jewish state.

At first Israel insisted that the competition must be held in the capital, Jerusalem. But after backlash from the organizers, who threatened to find another host country, Netanyahu instructed his government to keep quiet on the issue. Several cities in Israel are expected to vie to host the contest.

Another threat to Israel hosting the competition is a threatened lawsuit by a major US record label which charged that the composers of the Israeli entry infringed their copyright.

Universal Music Studios, one of the world’s biggest music companies, in recent weeks sent a pre-suit notice letter to Doron Medalie and Stav Berger, who jointly wrote the winning song, Netta Barzilai’s “Toy,” saying it was copied from The White Stripes’ 2003 hit, “Seven Nation Army.”

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