The Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA), representing companies such as Discovery, AMC Networks, NBCUniversal and Fox Networks Group in the U.K., has criticized the government’s White Paper on Brexit, arguing that it “offers little clarity” for their operations.
Around 650 international channels have made the U.K. the base of their European operations. According to COBA, international TV channels based in the U.K., with their investments in staff, content and technology, are a £1 billion a year business. With their U.K. investments up by 50 percent in the last five years, they are also among the fastest growing parts of the U.K.’s creative industries. These international operators support one in five jobs in U.K. broadcasting, COBA maintains.
The White Paper, COBA says, provides few details on what arrangements the U.K. will make with the EU regarding broadcasting. Currently, a U.K. broadcast license is recognized by EU member states. If this no longer applies, companies would be forced to restructure their European businesses in order to continue broadcasting across the EU. This restructuring cannot wait until March 2019 when Brexit takes effect, COBA says.
Adam Minns, COBA’s executive director, said: “This is a £1 billion, high growth sector that should be central to the future of the U.K.’s audiovisual 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.”