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Romania expelled from Eurovision

BBC News BBC News 22/04/2016

Romania has been expelled from the Eurovision Song Contest after its national broadcaster failed to pay outstanding debts dating back to 2007.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) claimed the Romanian public service broadcaster Televiziunea Romana (TVR) owes 16 million Swiss francs.

The EBU described the action to exclude Romania from next month's contest in Sweden as "regrettable".

Romania has never won the contest, but came third in 2005 and 2010.

The EBU had called on the Romanian government to make satisfactory arrangements to repay the debt by Wednesday (20 April). The organisation regards the Romanian State as legally obliged to underwrite TVR's debt.

'Disappointing'

"It is regrettable that we are forced to take this action," said EBU director general Ingrid Deltenre.

"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."

The Romanian broadcaster will also lose access to other EBU member services, including the Eurovision News and Sports News and the right to broadcast specific sporting events.

Romania first took part in the annual music competition in 1994, and has participated in every final since the introduction of the semi-finals heats in 2004.

Ovidiu Anton was due to perform Moment of Silence at this year's contest in Stockholm in 12 May.

The 24-year-old singer confirmed the news on his website: "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, same honest artist, same fighter that won fare [sic] and square both from the jury and from the public's vote, but yet, I have to declare I have been "defeated" By whom? Why? Fair? I don't know how to put it nicely, so I abstain."

Moment of Silence has already been included on the official CD for this year's contest. The EBU said it would keep the digital download of the song available for download and streaming, as a courtesy to the artist.

"To take an act out at such late stage is of course a little disruptive, but it will not negatively affect the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest in any other way," said Jon Ola Sand, executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest.

"It is, of course, disappointing - it's disappointing for the artist, for the fans, and for the viewers in Romania and all over Europe.

"But we have to stay firm on this decision, and I believe it was the right decision. And then we will have to see for 2017, and onwards, how this situation develops."

It is not the first time a country has been barred from taking part in Eurovision. Greece was disqualified from the 1982 contest for entering a song that was based on a national folk tune, and therefore not an original song.

More recently, Georgia's entry in 2009 was disqualified by the EBU for supposedly containing political lyrics.

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