Israeli broadcaster announces end of Eurovision participation

Jury head on Euro show says closure of IBA means Israel can no longer compete


Israel's Eurovision Song Contest broadcasters used Saturday night’s final to draw attention to Benjamin Netanyahu's closure of the country's public broadcasting channel.

Israel Broadcasting Authority's Ofer Nachshon, who announced the Israeli jury’s scoring for the contest to millions of viewers across Europe, caused shock when he said: "Tonight is our final night."

Mr Nachshon, who has been IBA Channel One's Eurovision vote announcer since 2009, told viewers: "For the past 44 years Israel has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest winning three times. But tonight is our final night. Tonight IBA will shut down our broadcasting for ever.

“So on behalf IBA let me say ‘thank you Europe’ for all the magical moments and beautiful years…and hopefully we shall meet again in the future.”

After a decision by the Israeli government, affirmed in a vote in the Knesset, IBA is to be replaced by a new station, known as Kan, next week.

But because Kan will not be airing news it does not currently comply with the rules of  the European Broadcasting Union, which runs Eurovision.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the EBU is still keen to strike a new deal with Israel. A spokesman told the paper: “Once IBA, the existing member of the EBU, has been dissolved and IPBC becomes operational, an application for membership of the EBU will be fully considered.

“Therefore, at the moment, the EBU has no formal position on this.”

Israel’s entry for this year’s contest was 25-year-old Imri Ziv. He finished 23rd.

A seasoned Eurovision participant, Imri served as a backing singer for Israel’s 2015 and 2016 entries.

The IBA was established in 1948 and held a monopoly on TV and radio broadcasts until the 1990s. Like the BBC, it was funded mainly by licence fees.

In 2014, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government announced that the IBA would be replaced with a new public broadcaster that would be less costly.

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