COBA: Brexit White Paper provides little clarity for £1 billion sector

The Government’s White Paper on Brexit offers little clarity for the UK’s £1 billion international broadcasting sector, the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA) said today.

International TV channels based in the UK are a £1 billion a year business, investing in UK jobs, technology and content. They are one of the fastest growing parts of the UK’s successful creative industries, having increased investment in the UK by 50% in five years, and support 1 in 5 jobs in UK broadcasting. The UK is Europe’s leading broadcasting centre, home to around 650 international channels, more than any other European country.

Today’s White Paper provides little detail on the type of arrangements the UK is seeking in its negotiations with the EU on broadcasting.International broadcasting needs access to EU markets to continue to broadcast. Under current law, the UK grants a broadcasting licence which is recognised by other EU Member States. Without alternative arrangements, this recognition will no longer be granted once the UK leaves the EU, and broadcasters would reluctantly be forced to restructure their European businesses in order to obtain a licence in a remaining EU Member State.

Furthermore, like many sectors, international broadcasting cannot wait until the March 2019 “cliff edge” to undertake any restructuring that may be necessary as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Businesses need several months to put contingency plans into place, as this may involve significant changes to their operations.

Adam Minns, COBA’s Executive Director, said:

“This is a £1 billion, high growth sector that should be central to the future of the UK’s audio-visual sector. We remain deeply concerned that broadcasters will have to reluctantly start restructuring within the next few months, and possibly within weeks for some companies.”