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COBA blasts Brexit White Paper

The UK’s Commercial Broadcasters’ Association (COBA), which represents firms such as Disney and Discovery Communications, has attacked the government’s White Paper on Brexit.

Adam Minns

The document offers little clarity for the UK’s international broadcasting sector regarding the type of arrangements the UK is seeking in its negotiations with the EU on broadcasting, according to COBA.

The UK is Europe’s leading broadcasting centre, home to around 650 international channels, more than any other European country.

Adam Minns, COBA’s executive director, has said that the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit could soon result in international broadcasters restructuring their UK operations.

“This is a £1bn [US$1.3bn], high growth sector that should be central to the future of the UK’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,” said Minns.

Prior to the publication of the White Paper, earlier this week Minns called for “urgent clarity” as concerns grew about whether TV operators based in the country need to relocate as a result of Brexit.

“International broadcasting needs access to EU markets to continue to broadcast. Under current law, the UK grants a broadcasting licence which is recognised by other EU member states. Without alternative arrangements, this recognition will no longer be granted once the UK leaves the EU, and broadcasters would reluctantly be forced to restructure their European businesses in order to obtain a licence in a remaining EU member state,” said Minns.

“Furthermore, like many sectors, international broadcasting cannot wait until the March 2019 ‘cliff edge’ to undertake any restructuring that may be necessary as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Businesses need several months to put contingency plans into place, as this may involve significant changes to their operations.”

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