Lebanon is out. Broadcaster Télé-Liban decided to withdraw from the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest. The show continues with 39 participants. As Lebanon was a semifinal participant, the qualification round of the 2005 contest takes place with 25 participants, instead of 26. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) confirmed the news.
A few weeks ago it came out that on the official Lebanese Eurovision Song Contest website, Israel was not listed as participant. After a demand from the European Broadcasting Union to solve the issue, it was decided to remove the complete list of participants and in this way avoiding the problem. According to the Lebanese broadcaster in a statement to the EBU, legislation in Lebanon makes it nearly impossible for Télé-Liban to broadcast the Israeli performance. Télé-Liban faced a difficult situation, as they had to broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest in accordance with the rules. The EBU asked Télé-Liban to assure they would broadcast the contest without interruption, but the Lebanese broadcaster could not assure that. “When we told them this is not possible and they have to broadcast the entire programme, they decided to withdraw from the 50th Eurovision Song Contest”, Svante Stockselius said to esctoday.com.
“I feel particularly sorry for Aline Lahoud, the Lebanese participant”, Stockselius said. People surrounding her requested the EBU if it was possible to have her in the contest as a non-participating artist, but this was not possible.
In, out, in, out…
21st October 2004, Ibrahim El Khoury, President Director General of public broadcaster Télé-Liban, exclusively informed esctoday.com that Lebanon was going to be present at the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev. 3rd November, it was announced that Aline Lahoud would be the first Lebanese Eurovision Song Contest participant.
In an official statement to esctoday.com on 15th December, Télé-Liban explained that financial reasons forced Lebanon to withdraw from the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest. Sady Farah from Télé-Liban denies that the decision was based on political conflicts with Israel, a 'false rumour' that was spread by German news paper Die Tageszeitung.
20th December, it was confirmed that the EBU managed to come to an agreement with Télé-Liban and thus, the country appeared on the official list of participants.
9th March, we exclusively presented the Lebanese entry for the upcoming contest, Quand tout s'enfuit, performed by Aline Lahoud and written by Jad Rahbani and Romeo Lahoud.
Today, 18th March 2005, the EBU confirmed that Lebanon will not participate in the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest.
Until 15th December, broadcasters got the opportunity to withdraw without financial consequences. Three months later, while the preparations for the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest are in a final stadium, Lebanon drops out. “During the Reference Group meeting, which takes place tomorrow, we will discuss the penalty for Télé-Liban. They loose their participation fee for sure, but an extra fine is possible”, Stockselius explained.
In 1974 France dropped out due to the death of president Georges Pompidou. Dani already started rehearsing in Brighton, when they decided to withdrew with La vie a vingt cinq ans. In 1977, Tunisia withdrew shortly after the draw for the running order and never returned to the contest. In 1988 it was discovered that the Cypriot song had previously been in a preselection earlier. As the deadline had passed they had to withdraw, the song though still features on the 1988 Eurovision album. In 1996, Bulgaria was on the participants' list for the internal preselection, but was crossed out. When the Israeli participants came on stage in 1978 to sing Abanibi, the director in Jordan decided to show a picture of flowers. As soon as it was clear Israel was going to win, the voting was interrupted to show an American movie. Belgium, which ended up second in 1978, was announced as winner by the Jordan news the day after. In 1979, the Jordanian broadcaster decided to stop transmission before the voting to avoid a situation like in 1978. In 1979, Turkey decided to withdraw, officially due to financial problems caused by the oil crisis. Though, behind the scenes it was said that some Arabic nations put pressure on Turkey not to go to Israel, where the Eurovision Song Contest would take place.
Esctoday.com asked composer Jad Rahbani and Aline Lahoud for a reaction. More up to come!