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Eurovision 2017 Hits Another Snag in Ukraine: Head of National Broadcaster Resigns Over Lack of Financing

Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images
Zurab Alasania, Head of the Ukrainian National Television Company, during a press conference in Kiev on Sept. 9, 2016. 

Zurab Alasania, the head of NTU, Ukraine's national TV and radio company has resigned, complaining that the country is having troubles financing next year’s Eurovision song contest scheduled to run in the capital Kiev. Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers accepted Alasania's resignation yesterday (Nov. 2), the Interfax Ukraine news agency reported.

In an interview with the online newspaper Ukrainskaya Pradva, Alasania named underfunding of the company, which is Eurovision's broadcast partner, as the main reason for his resignation.

"Overcoming the resistance of bureaucrats is very difficult, and we didn't complain until recently," Alasania was quoted as saying. "But now we are just desperate. We wouldn't be able to organize Eurovision in 2017."

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the song contest, said it is aware of the situation.

"After winning this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, the NTU and the government of Ukraine made the necessary financial commitments to the EBU to become hosts of next year’s show, in line with usual protocol," a spokesman for the EBU tells Billboard. "However, since then, issues have arisen regarding access to those budgets that need to be resolved."

"We are in constant contact with NTU in Ukraine and are doing everything we can to assist them in their hosting of the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest in May 2017,” he continued.

Meanwhile, the EBU said that Alasania's resignation shouldn't have an impact on Ukraine's preparation for the contest.

"We can confirm that we were informed in advance, and have assurances that Zurab Alasania will continue to work with us on planning the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 until a handover with a newly appointed director general can take place," the EBU's spokesman said.

The 2017 Eurovision Song Contest is to be held on May 9, 11 and 13. Ukraine won the right to host the contest thanks to the victory of its entrant, singer Jamala, in the last contest.

However, over the last few weeks, there have been controversies over the choice of the St. Sophia complex, a proposed venue for the opening ceremony, and the International Exhibition Center, the confirmed venue for the actual contest.