Yesterday news broke that the Balkan country Montenegro confirmed its withdrawal from Eurovision for 2023, and now additional countries have followed suit.

MRT announces withdrawal, intent to return

Signs have been pointing towards a withdraw from North Macedonia since their 2022-2023 budget was revealed to include JESC expenses, but none alloted for Eurovision. The Head of Delegation put up a strong fight for the country to remain in Eurovision, even submitting a proposal to MRT’s programming council on how to improve the country’s position in the contest, but in the end the broadcaster could not afford participation. The broadcaster’s official statement on withdrawal reads:

This decision is in the best interest of the citizens, taking into account the increased costs due to the energy crisis, which take up a large part of the budget of the public service, as well as the increased contribution for the participation in the Eurovision Song Contest 2023, which until last year amounted to 39,143.00 euros, and next year it is expected to be higher. This decision will enable the saving of funds that should be set aside for the stay of the Macedonian delegation in Liverpool, where the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 is being held.

The statement goes on to say, “But, МРТ on its services will broadcast the event, the two semi-final evenings and the grand finale. MRT hopes that the situation will stabilize, after which the country will return again to participate in Eurovision in 2024.”

The Director General of MRT also expanded on the broadcaster’s current financial situation, saying that last month their energy bill cost the broadcaster 10 million MKD or 162,000 euros. This amount is almost the entire cost of participating in Eurovision, which comes out to a one-time fee of 200,000 euros. He also reiterated that the decision is just for this year, and that the country could return for the contest in 2024 if finances allow. MRT has committed to broadcasting both semi-finals and the grand final for the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest, and participation in Junior Eurovision 2022.

Bulgaria out for immediate future

Bulgaria’s broadcaster BNT confirmed to OGAE Greece this morning that they will also not return for the 2023 contest, or any subsequent contests. After the 2023 contest the broadcaster updated their Twitter bio to state in both Bulgarian and English “Неактивен профил / Not active any longer”, and this morning the entire Twitter account was deleted. This marks the country’s third withdrawal from the contest in the last 11 years.

The broadcaster’s statement indicates that “After analysis it was decided that this program does not present an interest for the broadcaster any longer”, and that Bulgaria will “most probably” not participate again in the future. The country’s participation has been subject in the past to funding secured by corporate or external sponsors, or having the artist pay for participation costs as Intelligent Music Project did in 2022. Bulgaria will also not compete in the Junior edition of the contest in Yerevan later this year.

Eurovision 2023 as of today

Currently, a total of 34 countries have publicly confirmed their intentions to participate in the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest, with Azerbaijan being the latest. At the time the only countries yet to reveal their participation plans are Armenia, Czech Republic, and Moldova who all competed last year. Should all three return to compete in the UK, the 2023 contest would have at least 37 competing countries and entries.

Are #YOU sad to see Bulgaria and North Macedonia not compete in 2023? Make sure #YOU tell us on social media @ESCUnited, on our discord, or on our forum page!

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