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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Estonia's Eurovision worry
Tanel Pardar
Estonia's victory was completely unexpected
Estonia may not host next year's Eurovision song contest due to financial difficulties at the public television service ETV.

Tanel Pardar and Dave Benton won Estonia the right to host the contest in Tallinn when they won the 46th Eurovision Song Contest earlier this month.

But debt-laden ETV says it cannot continue to broadcast regularly, let alone host the concert, without extra government funding.

Estonia's parliament at Toompea Castle
Estonia's parliament at Toompea Castle
"We are doing our best to stage the contest but the government's anti-public service broadcasting policy makes this impossible," ETV's director-general Aare Urm said.

The Estonian Government agreed on Tuesday to guarantee a loan to ETV, but at 37 million kroons (1.4m) this is far less than ETV had requested.

"Should the government stick to its ruling, it is likely there will not be a public service broadcaster in Estonia by next year," Urm said.

Public service

The government has said it sees the song contest threat as an attempt to force more money out of the state.

"The government supports the organisation of the song contest and does not see a link between a loan and the contest," said government spokesman Priit Poiklik.

Hosts Soren Pilmark and Natasja Crone
Soren Pilmark and Natasja Crone presented the Copenhagen event
Under the statutes of the Eurovision, the song contest can only be organised by the public service broadcasting stations.

Estonia must give an official agreement to stage the contest to the European Broadcasting Union by 29 May.

Malta's public television service has already announced that it is willing to stage the Eurovision, should Estonia be unable to do it.

Estonia took top place in this year's contest with the song Everybody - the first time a country from central or eastern Europe had won the contest.

The event was broadcast to more than 100 million television viewers in 30 countries.

The contest, which was set up in 1956, has television viewers in the participating countries make up the jury by phoning in their individual votes.

See also:

13 May 01 | Reviews
Another year, another Eurovision
04 May 01 | Music
No Dream Impossible for Lindsay
25 Apr 01 | Music
Malta going for Eurovision gold
12 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Schoolgirl bids for Eurovision glory
09 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Breaking the Eurovision mould
14 May 00 | Entertainment
Danes win Eurovision contest
12 May 00 | Entertainment
The politics of Eurovision
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