Ukraine’s future in Eurovision has been put into question as Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC has announced that they will have to terminate analogue broadcasting due to lack of funding.
UA:PBC, which is the home of Eurovision within Ukraine, and also the only Ukrainian station which is a member of the European Broadcasting Union has made this announcement as they are in a large amount of debt to the government of Ukraine.
Within Europe, UA:PBC has one of the smallest budgets of all broadcasters. This year they received only half of the expected budget supplied by the government which was outlined by Ukrainian law.
The European Broadcasting Union have responded to the situation with EBU Director General Noel Curran making the following statement:
We are dismayed that the authorities have taken the decision to deprive the Ukrainian people of this important public service.
We urge the authorities to restore transmissions immediately and allocate the necessary funding to allow public service media to fulfil its critical role to society and to democracy in Ukraine.
The EBU have also commented that “access to independent, pluralistic news and information” should be something considered for next year’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections that will take place in Ukraine.
Despite initially withdrawing, Ukraine have been confirmed as one of the 20 countries participating in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest this year in Minsk, Belarus. Earlier this week they also confirmed their presence at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 in Tel Aviv. However beyond that, this news today puts doubts on the future of the country in Eurovision events altogether.
Ukraine previously had to withdraw from the Eurovision Song Contest in 2015 due to financial reasons. This was the only time since their debut in 2003 that they have been missing from the lineup. They returned the following year and managed to win the contest with “1944” with Jamala. This meant that they were granted hosting rights for 2017 which took place in their capital of Kyiv. Despite the event going ahead, the task of hosting the contest put further financial pressure on the broadcaster.
Previously to 2017, Ukraine also hosted the contest back in 2005. In addition, they played host to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2009 and also 2013. All four events were held in Kyiv.
Ukraine first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2003, when Oleksandr Ponomariov performed “Hasta la vista”. The following year Ruslana brought the country their first win with the song “Wild Dances”. It was a feat that would be replicated in 2016 by Jamala with her song “1944”; her emotionally charged song scored a record 534 points to take victory in Stockholm. Last year O.Torvald represented the country on home soil with the song “Time”. The group finished in 24th place, Ukraine’s worst result at the contest to date.