The Malta Independent 3 December 2021, Friday

Probe into Malta’s Eurovision spending found no irregularities

Albert Galea Monday, 22 November 2021, 09:41 Last update: about 10 days ago

A probe launched into Malta’s spending in relation to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest found no irregularities, Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela told The Malta Independent in an interview.

Abela had, last May, ordered an audit into the spending related to Malta’s 2021 Eurovision Song Contest entry Destiny, after suggestions emerged that part of the budget for the competition had been used to manipulate betting odds in order to make the country appear to be one of the frontrunners to win the competition.

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It was also said that the Malta Tourism Authority in particular had gone way over budget in its spending on social media and through Eurovision blogs and influencers to upload content which backed the Maltese entry.

Destiny was third favourite to win the competition with her song Je Me Casse, but ultimately finished in 7th place after a poor showing in the televoting part of the competition.

The Times of Malta had reported that over 650,000 had been dished out on promoting Destiny’s entry, with some 350,000 spent by the Malta Tourism Authority and another 300,000 spent by the Public Broadcasting Services.

The possibility of financial mismanagement in how the money was spent was flagged to Abela, who is the minister responsible for the state broadcaster, soon after the contest by PBS’ board of directors.

An audit to look into the spending was subsequently launched on 26 May.

While its full findings have never been published, asked by The Malta Independent during an interview about the outcome of the audit, Abela said that the audit did not find that money was spent on lowering the betting odds in Malta’s favour.

Betting odds can be lowered in numerous scenarios, one of those being when a high amount of money is put behind one person.  The more money shovelled onto that person, the lower their betting odds go.

“The audit found that both the MTA and PBS worked within their own respective procurement regulations,” Abela said.

He said that there were restrictions on the publication of the full report by those who penned it, but that it emerged that both entities had followed the “established respective procedures for procurement” in their work on the Eurovision.

In what was built-up as one of Malta’s best chances of tasting Eurovision glory – which it has never done – Destiny’s performance propelled her to winning her semi-final and placing third in the jury vote, which accounts for half of the voting procedure in the Grand Final.

However, she only received 47 points in the televoting part of the final – a lowly 15th out of the 26 countries which took part in the final.

She subsequently finished in 7th place – which was still Malta’s best result in the competition since 2005 – as Italy’s Maneskin ran out as the eventual winners.

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