Brexit could cause the broadcasting industry to be hit by extra licencing in the EU, forcing channels and jobs to leave the UK

  • While Ofcom is considered the best regulator in the world, its rules may not be enough to satisfy EU regulations post Brexit

Up to now communications regulator Ofcom issues broadcasters with licenses that are valid throughout the EU.

In the case of a no-deal Brexit, U.K. based broadcasters and video on demand (VOD) operators will need to assess whether their current licenses will still be accepted in EU countries where their services are made available.

It could now be the responsibility of U.K. based broadcasters and VOD operators to seek a new license to operate or to obtain approval in each country. In some cases, they may have to seek two licenses.

With the possible requirement to establish a base in the EU, it means little comfort for the many workers and companies based in the UK.

Head of BECTU (the union for media and entertainment) Gerry Morrissey, said: “There are deep concerns that many of the roughly 700 TV channels originated in this country, but destined for consumption elsewhere, will move much of their operation into the EU. There is very little clarity on what the government intends to do to resolve this.”

However, Marek Bekerman who is head of International Journalism at the University of Salford believes the UK, with Ofcom, has the best regulator not only in Europe but the world and on top of this for a lot of European companies it is the creative environment that is another strong reason for being based in the UK.  He suggests that the answer is to find a way where Ofcom could be considered an EU regulator.

He said: “My feeling is that, when everyone wakes up after the Brexit hangover, they will try to be rational and say that we do want Ofcom, maybe there will be whole transportation of Ofcom structures into another location.” 

With a popular industry shedding jobs this does not bode well for the Media and Broadcast training courses at Colleges and Universities around the country who are preparing graduates for jobs in the broadcasting industry. University of Salford who moved their media department to Media City UK, to be in the country’s TV and Broadcast hub in Salford can see the problem on their door step.

Lyndon Saunders who is a lecturer in TV and Radio and The University of Salford said: “From a lecturer point of view and meeting new graduates going out into the industry, any move that means there is less job opportunities on the channel side of the industry is a concern, but it’s a concern for the whole industry.”

Marek also has a warning for British Broadcasters in general. There is a change in the air, he says. “The British have always been better at translating the Anglo Saxon culture to Europe and ‘Globalising’ it, certainly much better than America, and I am always surprised that somewhere there is a country watching Benny Hill or Mr Bean which is a bigger hit than it is in Britain.

“Now the question is how long will it last? Some people are talking about the twilight of the Anglo-Saxon civilisation and cultural domination and Brexit is part of that trend.”