The BBC is looking at Belgium, Ireland and The Netherlands for a new international headquarters after Brexit to allow the corporation to continue to broadcast across the EU.
Belgium’s prime minister, Charles Michel, has revealed he held discussions on the possibility in Davos with the BBC’s director-general, Tony Hall. “Belgium is often on the shortlist of companies eager to anchor in the European Union after Brexit,” said Michel.
The BBC will need EU-based licences for its international channels, which include BBC World, BBC Entertainment, BBC First, and BBC Earth, if it wishes to have them broadcast across Europe either after March 29th, if the UK leaves without a deal, or after the transition period, should the prime minister’s agreement be approved by parliament.
The Government wanted to include the audiovisual industry in a free trade agreement to avoid the problem but has been ignored.
French president Emmanuel Macron has confirmed he had no intention of permitting the UK to continue to dominate the creative industries.
“France has consistently defended the exclusion of audiovisual services from free trade agreements,” he wrote. “This is an essential issue, which concerns the protection of cultural diversity. Our country has made it a major point in every trade negotiation. It has thus obtained, in all the free trade agreements the EU has concluded, the exclusion of audiovisual services.”
More than 500 pan-European channels currently use licences issued by the British regulator Ofcom. International media companies reportedly spend about £1 billion (€1.14bn) a year in the UK, making it the most significant such hub.