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Government Does Not Rule Out Contributing To Eurovision Costs, But Won't Promise ‘Blank Cheques’

4 min read

The government has not ruled out contributing to the cost of putting on the Eurovision Song Contest next year, after the UK confirmed it would host the event on behalf of Ukraine.

On Monday it was confirmed that the annual party will be held in the UK in 2023, as 2022 winners Ukraine will not be able to uphold the tradition of hosting the next contest as a result of the ongoing invasion by Russia. 

While the bulk of the financing for staging the event in the UK will be met by the host broadcaster – the BBC – with another contribution from the city selected as the home of the event, it is understood that a contribution to costs by the government has not been ruled out.  

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which has been instrumental in bringing the contest to the UK in 2023, is believed to be in talks with the BBC about supporting the event next spring. No decisions have been made on any additional money that will be made available. 

But officials are thought to be reluctant to write "blank cheques" at a time when government is trying to tighten its spending. 

A number of locations have already signified they will launch a formal bid to host the event, and the expectation is that the event would provide a significant tourism boost and cash injection to the local economy. 

Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow and Manchester are among them, and one councillor believes that the government agreeing to host the event symbolises a “commitment” and acknowledgement that the money will need to come from somewhere. 

Jonathan Pryor, Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council and Executive Member for Culture said that the total cost of hosting is “the sort of cost that a city council alone couldn’t absorb, wherever it was in the UK". 

“I think it’s reasonable to assume that whatever city it’s in, there are going to be some ancillary costs even if the bulk of it is [paid for] nationally," he said.  

“For example, we’re thinking about if it were in Leeds, how do you make it so that it’s an event for the whole city not just people who have got tickets, it might be about putting on extra stuff for citizens here so that’s the sort of thing that would be a cost to a city.” 

Pryor said that any investment would be made worthwhile by the economic boost that hosting would provide. 

“I think the fact that the government and DCMS have agreed to host Eurovision in the UK is a commitment, that they know this is something the country will have to pay for," he added. 

“I’m sure those conversations about the exact breakdown of who will pay for what are happening somewhere.”

According to the Eurovision website, a significant chunk of the financial burden is shouldered by the host broadcaster, with a contribution that is “generally between €10 and €20 m, depending on local circumstances and available resources". 

Other participating broadcasters across Europe also contribute, up to a value of around €6.2m combined. 

A contribution from the host city, either financially or ‘in-kind’ – covering outside costs such as security or branding – is also expected. 

Follwoing the announcement, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted: "This is Ukraine’s Eurovision and it’s an absolute privilege and honour for the UK to be supporting our friends."

Tim Davie, BBC Director General, said: “It is a matter of great regret that our colleagues and friends in Ukraine are not able to host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest. 

“Being asked to host the largest and most complex music competition in the world is a great privilege. 

“The BBC is committed to making the event a true reflection of Ukrainian culture alongside showcasing the diversity of British music and creativity. 

“The BBC will now begin the process to find a host city to partner with us on delivering one of the most exciting events to come to the UK in 2023.”

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