×

Broadcasters Demand More Clarity From U.K. Government’s Brexit Blueprint

The British government has outlined its hoped-for relationship with the European Union after Brexit in a blueprint that it calls bold and ambitious but that TV broadcasters and channel operators say lacks clarity.

The U.K. is a major hub for channels, with more than 600 using a license from British media regulator Ofcom that, at present, is applicable to the rest of the EU. But the issue for channel operators is whether these licenses will be recognized outside Britain after the country officially withdraws from the 28-nation trading bloc.

A section of the government’s Brexit white paper, which was published Thursday, specifically addresses broadcasting. “The audiovisual sector is both economically and culturally important to the U.K. and the EU,” it said. “The U.K.’s creative hub contributes significantly to the development of products that are much in demand by European consumers.”

It added that the “U.K. is seeking the best possible arrangements for this sector,” but gave no further details.

The Commercial Broadcasters Assn. said the document “offers little clarity for the U.K.’s £1 billion ($1.32 billion) international broadcasting sector.” While European negotiations often go down to the wire, the organization warned that broadcasters need months to organize contingency plans.

“We remain deeply concerned that broadcasters will have to reluctantly start restructuring within the next few months, and possibly within weeks for some companies,” Adam Minns, the association’s executive director, said in a statement.

The Creative Industries Federation, an association that spans the U.K.’s creative sectors from film and TV to fashion, called for a stronger commitment from the U.K. government on broadcasting.

Some channel operators, including Vice and Viacom, have already moved their European channels out of the U.K., although the latter said it was not because of Brexit. Others such as Discovery and Turner are also considering moving their channels.

Prime Minister Theresa May gave a key speech earlier this year in which she said options including a system of mutual recognition should be explored. This be tantamount to the status quo, with Britain subscribing to the EU’s directive on Audiovisual Media Services.

“In concrete terms, [the white paper] doesn’t really take us beyond what the PM said in March,” said John Enser, a partner at CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang. “Despite the fine words, the prospects of some future AVMS-style mutual recognition are not currently great outside of a bigger shift in Brexit policy, such as a change of government or new referendum.”

More TV

  • Olympics

    NBCUniversal Projects More Than $1.2 Billion in Ad Sales for 2020 Olympics

    NBCUniversal projected it would sell more than $1.2 billion in advertising for its 17 days of broadcasts of the 2020 Olympics from Tokyo, citing the event as a rare opportunity for Madison Avenue to reach big audiences without the worry of politics getting in the way of a commercial message. The Olympics is “one of [...]

  • R Kelly Sexual Assult Accusations Mugshot

    'Surviving R. Kelly' Follow Up, Jeffrey Epstein Docuseries in the Works at Lifetime

    Lifetime is working on a follow up to the hit docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” and a new docuseries about Jeffrey Epstein. Rob Sharenow, president of programming for A+E Networks, made the announcements at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Tuesday. “The Aftermath” will be a four-part series featuring interviews with new survivors, psychologists, [...]

  • Janelle Monae

    Janelle Monáe to Star in 'Homecoming' Season 2 at Amazon

    Janelle Monáe has been tapped to star in the second season of “Homecoming.” Monáe’s character is described as a tenacious woman who finds herself floating in a canoe, with no memory of how she got there or who she is. Monáe takes over the top spot on the Amazon series from Julia Roberts, who starred [...]

  • Juan Alfonso Fazekas Butters

    Fazekas & Butters Taps Juan Alfonso to Be Head of Television

    Fazekas & Butters, a production company led by Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, has named Juan Alfonso as the new head of television. There, he will develop and produce projects, and seek out and engage with writers, intellectual property and creative partners, “matchmaking talented people and ideas,” according to Alfonso. The pod, which launched in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content