The Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA), the trade body that includes these networks and is chaired by Animal Planet Global President Susanna Dinnage, has called for clarity to ensure that groups can stay in the UK and prevent billions of dollars in broadcasting revenue from moving to the continent.
International broadcasters invest more than £1B (US$1.3B) a year in the UK in the form of content, jobs, overheads and infrastructure and the UK is Europe’s leading international broadcasting centre, home to 650 international channels.
However, a number of international broadcasters have started to restructure and are eyeing move significant parts of their business to Europe if Britain leaves the European Union.
The body is now waiting for the outcome of the government’s white paper, which is due to be published on Thursday and will set out its plan for Brexit and set the foundations for talks on the UK’s relationship with the Europe Union.
Adam Minns, COBA’s Executive Director said he welcomed last week’s comments by Culture Minister Margot James, who said she understood the “importance of broadcast licensing arrangements for the sector”, but was reserving judgement until the plans were published.
Minns said, “Without more certainty over whether the transition period will take place, we are certainly concerned that broadcasters will have to reluctantly start restructuring within the next few months, and possibly within weeks for some companies. The UK has a leadership position as Europe’s international broadcasting hub for good reason – no one wants to have to restructure their businesses. But if these changes have to be made, companies will be forced to start the process well in advance of the cliff edge so they have sufficient time to manage the process.
“A status quo transition period is in the interests of both the UK and the EU. It would enable broadcasters to continue investing in local content and new services in the UK and across Europe without the significant disruption of having to restructure their businesses, at least until the long-term future relationship between the UK and the EU is clear.”