Eurovision contest 2016
Mans Zelmerloew representing Sweden celebrates winning the 2015 Eurovision. Romania has been expelled from the 2016 contest in Stockholm due to unpaid debtsReuters

Romania has been kicked out of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest over claims that its state broadcaster Televiziunea Romana (TVR) owes 16m Swiss francs (£11.3m, €14.4m, $16m) in debt dating back to 2007.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) will exclude Romania from the contest in Sweden on 12 May after the Romanian government failed to meet the 20 April deadline to commit to underwriting the debt. The EBU said its financial stability was jeopardised by the debts owed by TVR which would now also lose access to services such as the Eurovision News and Sports News and the right to broadcast some sporting events.

EBU director general Ingrid Deltenre said: "It is regrettable that we are forced to take this action. We are disappointed that all our attempts to resolve this matter have received no response from the Romanian government."

The country's representative, Ovidiu Anton, was due to perform Moment of Silence at the contest in May and he said on his website: "I am trying to smile and not get carried away, but it is unfair."

Romania has never won Eurovision, but came third in 2005 and 2010. It is not the first country to be banned from the annual contest. Greece was disqualified in 1982 for entering a song that was based on a national folk tune, and therefore not an original song.

Georgia's entry in 2009 was disqualified by the EBU for supposedly containing political lyrics.