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Eurovision set to cost Moscow more than previous years


MOSCOW, May 6 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow will spend more on next week's Eurovision Song Contest than its predecessor Belgrade, a Russian business daily reported on Wednesday citing the organizing group chief.

Valery Vinogradov told Vedomosti the budget for the 54th song contest, which is being held in Moscow for the first time, is estimated at $42 million, not including sponsorship from Russia's ORT television.

According to Konstantin Ernst, ORT director, last year's Eurovision cost Belgrade 24 million euros (some $32 million).

The money will come from five sources, Vinogradov told the paper. The Russian government has allocated 1 billion rubles ($30.5 million), the Moscow authorities have given 200 million rubles ($6 million) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) will provide about $6 million.

The bulk of expenses have been channeled into, advertising, logistical support for participants and press, uniforms for staff and volunteers, as well as venue hire and layout and design of the Olympiyski Indoor Arena in central Moscow. Outdoor advertising has been provided free.

Up to 19,000 people are expected to attend the Eurovision final on May 16. Tickets cost from 5,100 rubles ($150) up to 99,800 rubles ($3,000), an ORT spokesman said the income from ticket sales was nothing compared to the money spent on the competition.

Even the sale of Eurovision merchandise will not cover Moscow's expenses, Vinogradov said.

An EBU official admitted that the competition in Moscow was not profitable.

"It is the external political effect, not revenue that matters," Ernst said, adding that his TV channel would cover any cash gaps.

Russian pop singer Dima Bilan won the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. His performance of the song Believe was accompanied by world famous Hungarian violinist Edvin Marton and world and Olympic figure skating champion Evgeni Plushenko.

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