In a wide-ranging speech, in which she set out her hopes for a future economic partnership with the European Union, May highlighted broadcasting and financial services as to of the key industries to protect. While, she admitted that both sides would have to accept “hard facts” once the UK leaves the EU, currently schedule for March 29 2019, she added that certain provisions may be explored to help these industries.
This comes as the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA), which represents broadcasters such as Discovery, Turner and Disney, warned that these companies may be forced to move some operations abroad if the UK leaves the EU with no formal trade agreement.
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“There are two areas which have never been covered in a Free Trade Agreement in any meaningful way before – broadcasting and, despite the EU’s own best efforts in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, financial services. But we have some ideas for how we can do this – and it is in all our interests to explore these.
“On broadcasting, we recognise that we cannot have exactly the same arrangements with the EU as we do now. Currently, because of the “country of origin” principle, a company based in the UK can be licenced by Ofcom and broadcast into any EU member state and vice versa. The relevant directive will not apply to the UK, as we leave the EU, and relying solely on precedents will hurt consumers and businesses on both sides,” she added.
May pointed out that the UK provides around 30% of the channels available in the EU. “But equally, many UK companies have pan-European ownership, and there are 35 channels and on-demand services, which are offered in the UK but licensed in the EU. So we should explore creative options with an open mind, including mutual recognition which would allow for continued transfrontier broadcasting – recognising the enriching role that British broadcasters and programme makers play, not only in British – but more broadly in our common European – culture.”
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