News that Romania won’t be participating in this year’s Eurovision was announced by the EBU earlier this morning.
The Internet, already straining following the shock news of Victoria Wood and Prince’s death, now found itself at breaking point as fans, commentators and would-be journalists rushed to social media to express their sorrow about the latest ‘shock’ announcement.
Headlines like ‘Romania Out’, and my particular favourite, ‘Romania Expelled’ started cropping up on social media, were complimented by heartfelt messages expressing how awful people thought it was that artists had been so callously denied their opportunity on the Eurovision stage. Some even described it as ‘very sad news’.
Let’s get a grip here. Not a firm grip. Just the kind of straightforward grip you’d call upon to put on a sock.
This is not sad news. Sad news is what people say when their cultural heroes drop off the perch unexpectedly, when your pet needs putting down, or when you don’t get shortlisted for that job you knew you were perfect for because your application wasn’t even read by a human being.
Nor is anyone or any country being singled out, excluded, or expelled. This isn’t a teenage party. It’s not school. And it’s not the UN.
What’s happened here is that a broadcasting organisation hasn’t paid its bills. To be part of the Eurovision Song Contest you have to be a member of the EBU. In return for paying your membership or subscription to the EBU you get services and content. The services are things like its broadcast network, technical infrastructure, knowledge and expertise, and content is things like its news output, it’s arts programming or say it’s light entertainment shows. If you don’t pay (or fail to pay) you can’t have access to the services or content. Contrary to popular opinion, everything needs paying for.
It’s a bit like Spotify or Sky TV: if you don’t pay, you don’t get access to the content.
And where Romania is concerned they’ve failed to pay for EBU services, of which broadcasting the Eurovision is one bit of content.
And if you’re not broadcasting the programme because you can’t get the rights, why on earth would you spend money on a TV programme in order to take part?