COBA Urges U.K. Government to “Be Ambitious” on Brexit Broadcasting Deal


The Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA) is calling on the U.K. government to seek an “ambitious deal” on broadcasting in its negotiations with the EU about Brexit plans.

COBA’s executive director, Adam Minns, told MPs on the Committee for Exiting the EU that international broadcasting is a £1 billion ($1.3 billion) sector that has been driving growth in the British broadcasting industry. The group highlighted that international broadcasting has grown by 50 percent since 2011, more than double the rate of growth for the U.K.’s wider digital sector (23 percent) and faster than the overall rate of growth for the creative industries (44.8 percent).

Minns said that “no deal” would put this growth at risk by forcing broadcasters to restructure their European operations in order to continue broadcasting to EU countries. Over the medium- to long-term, this will damage the “critical mass of the U.K. broadcasting sector.”

Minns commented: “The government has told us what is off the table, but it has not set out the type of arrangements that it wants to secure. We know the government cannot promise a deal, but it can promise to fight for arrangements on broadcasting that are ambitious, and it can give industry confidence by explaining what that would look like.”

COBA is asking that the government commits to seeking a clear and strong deal on broadcasting before companies are forced to activate contingency plans. The group added that companies will need to activate contingency plans well before the March 2019 “cliff edge.”

Minns said: “Companies cannot wait until March 2019 to make these decisions—without more clarity, they will have to activate contingency plans within months or even weeks. It is crucial that the government gives industry confidence that it will fight for broadcasting.”