Last week, the DOZORRO project of TI Ukraine analyzed what exactly UAH 11 million was spent on, which was planned to be spent within the framework of the contract to organize the National Selection for Eurovision. Back then, we noted that we had additional questions addressed to the procuring entity—JSC National Public Television and Radio Company of Ukraine.

We received an answer to the information request, and now we have an explanation of how many participants who wanted to broadcast the National Selection were chosen by the Suspilne Commission, whether the broadcaster received funds for advertising during the broadcast, and why the country in a state of war participated in Eurovision.

So, two participants entered the art competition announced in November:

  • Foreign Enterprise 1+1 Production: with an offer of UAH 10,999,811.46;
  • Starlight Production LLC: with an offer of UAH 11,090,282.

The latter organized the holding and broadcasting of the National Selection last year. Starlight Production is part of the StarLightMedia group of billionaire Viktor Pinchuk.

The winner was 1+1 Production, not only because the company offered a smaller amount. Suspilne adds that this participant worked out and detailed the proposal better and approached the issue of security more responsibly. In addition, its application had novelty and exclusivity: “(including the engagement of the famous comedian Vasyl Baidak), which made it possible to give a new life to the National Selection for Eurovision-2024, expand the audience of the digital reach of the contest, and increase the quality and attractiveness of the final product.”

DOZORRO also requested a more detailed estimate than the one uploaded with the contract or to mention separately the cost of sign language translation, which was also a separate topic of discussion. Suspilne replied that the translation was organized by the contractor and the procuring entity had no individual data.

Another issue that was discussed within the framework of Eurovision was the expediency of Ukraine participating in the contest. Therefore, we also asked about the purpose of Ukraine’s participation in 2024. The main reasons cited by Suspilne:

  • promotion of the country to support and help it;
  • promotion of the necessary messages;
  • gaining loyalty from people who are not interested in politics;
  • fundraising.

“Eurovision has long been part of the cultural diplomacy of Ukraine, and the promotion of culture abroad is its tool. During the war, every entry of Ukraine into the international arena is a reputational achievement. For Ukraine to be supported and helped, we must first of all be known.

Participation in the song contest, which has an audience of about 200 million, is an opportunity not only to remind the world of us, but also to promote our messages, an opportunity to return the issue of Ukraine to the agenda. The more attention we receive from an audience far from politics, the more chances we have to enhance assistance to Ukraine.

The popularity and recognition of singers thanks to Eurovision is converted into assistance to Ukraine. For example, immediately after participating in Eurovision, TVORCHI collected UAH 12 million to purchase intensive care incubators for babies, Kalush Orchestra managed to collect UAH 63 million in support of Ukraine (the sale of the legendary pink hat alone brought UAH 11 million), events with Jamala’s participation brought USD 90 million in assistance to Ukraine,” Suspilne stated in its response.

We also stressed that Ukraine’s participation in such events is a promotion of the country for international partners.

“In addition to the opportunity to once again ask for assistance, this is also another reminder that, unlike Russia, which was suspended from participating in the competition, Ukraine is a part of Europe, a candidate for the EU, integrated into its culture,” emphasizes Ivan Lakhtionov, deputy executive director of TI Ukraine.

We assumed that, in addition to budget expenses, Suspilne could have obtained certain funds during the broadcast of the National Selection—for example, for advertisements. The broadcaster confirmed that it had had a contract for the display of advertising, but refused to disclose the details, counterparties, and the cost, citing commercial secrecy:

“We can confirm that during the broadcast of the National Selection, advertising was placed. However, in accordance with the terms of the contract between Suspilne and the relevant advertiser, information on the cost and conditions of such placement is a commercial secret. Disclosure of this information will be regarded as a violation of contractual obligations on the part of Suspilne, which in turn will entail negative legal consequences and reputational losses for the company as a reliable counterparty.” 

In addition, we asked whether the broadcaster considered the option that participation in the Eurovision Song Contest by the war-affected country would be perceived negatively by foreign partners. Suspilne noted that it did not receive any negative comments from them.

At the same time, the Ministry of Culture did not come out with a statement regarding the reaction to the competition, its expediency, and budget costs.

While the discussions were going on, the winners of the national selection Alyona Alyona & Jerry Heil signed a contract with Suspilne to participate in Eurovision 2024. They will perform on May 7 in the Swedish city of Malmö. The organization of their performance, the shooting of a video clip, a photoshoot, the costumes, and the flight of the creative group will be financed at the expense of the budget. Last year, it cost more than UAH 3.5 mln. In addition, the state paid a EUR 31,000 contribution to participate in the competition.

The publication was prepared with the support of USAID / UK aid project Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services/ TAPAS