Amazon Studios Europe will remain headquartered in the U.K. regardless of whether the country exits the European Union with a deal in place or not.
Appearing on Tuesday before a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee convened to discuss the future of public service broadcasting in the U.K., Chris Bird, head of content at Amazon Prime Video for Europe, declared, “As European HQ is located in London, we intend to keep that HQ in London.
“We’re fortunate to have a significant part of our European workforce and some senior leaders already in the EU. So we don’t expect a need to move any U.K. staff internationally as well as a result of that. We’ll continue our investment in the U.K. and grow our investment in the U.K. and the EU.”
Bird admitted, however, that Brexit will introduce some regulatory complexity. “For example, in the event of audio visual not being included in any trade deal, we imagine that [U.K. media regulator] Ofcom will no longer be able to regulate us,” Bird added.
“So, we will need to find a new EU territory of origin and our EU businesses will need to be regulated by the regulator in that country,” the executive highlighted, adding that there’s an “important issue around U.K. content being affected by loss of EU work status.”
“If U.K. content can no longer be considered EU in terms of quotas, then our businesses in Europe will need to change their content catalog, to add more European content,” Bird added. “That’s not necessarily a big challenge for us. But we are concerned that this could be a challenge for smaller U.K. independent content producers, because it could mean a diminishment in the value of their content within Europe.”
Elsewhere, when asked by the committee about the relatively smaller number of hours produced by Amazon in the U.K., compared to the hundreds of hours produced by rival streamer Netflix, Georgia Brown, director for European Originals at Amazon Studios, was insistent that the company strategy remain curated, featuring quality over quantity.
“We have our own remits and our own output goals,” said Brown. “We are not doing a big, massive push into the U.K. for hundreds of hours of content. We’re taking an approach that we would like to be producing fewer shows at a much better quality, [with] a much more targeted approach.”
The “Grand Tour” SVOD has partnered with U.K. public service broadcaster BBC on a number of shows, most recently Steve McQueen’s much-lauded “Small Axe” anthology.
“I think it’s really important to protect people like the BBC. I would hate to see them diminished in that place within the ecosystem,” said Brown. “They account for such a huge majority of the primary commissioning going on in the U.K. They have a very clear and fundamental role, in my view, in terms of how they’re creatively supporting the ecosystem here across many different genres and many different facets.”