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COBA: Brexit White Paper offers little clarity

July 13, 2018

By Colin Mann

The Government’s White Paper on Brexit offers little clarity for the UK’s £1 billion (€1.13bn) international broadcasting sector, according to the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA), the trade body for commercial broadcasters in the UK.

According to COBA, 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 per cent in five years, and support one in five jobs in UK broadcasting. The UK is Europe’s leading broadcasting centre, home to around 650 international channels, more than any other European country.

COBA contends that the 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,” it warns.

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.

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

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