Monday 24 June 2019

BBC seeks new permits to continue broadcasting in EU

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Joe Mayes

The BBC is in talks with Irish and Dutch authorities to obtain licences allowing it to continue broadcasting across the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The UK licences that the taxpayer-funded BBC uses to beam hit shows into other EU countries will no longer be valid unless the UK leaves the bloc on March 29 with a withdrawal agreement in place.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to get Parliament to support her deal with the EU that would prolong current broadcast licensing arrangements for two years while Britain negotiates a new relationship with its biggest trading partner. On Tuesday, Ms May's Cabinet agreed to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

The BBC is yet to make a final decision on international broadcast licences, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are confidential.

International media companies which have regional hubs in Britain, such as Comcast's NBC Universal, have also applied for broadcast licences elsewhere in the EU to safeguard the transmission of their channels on the continent.

"The BBC has a big problem," said David Justin, president of One Six International, a media advisory firm based in Amsterdam. "If it's a hard Brexit, it would face a blackout in some countries."

A BBC spokesman said the organisation will keep the situation "under close review to ensure that we can continue to best serve our audiences".

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland said it had a similar licensing regime to Ofcom in the UK and had "been engaging with a number of UK-based broadcasters who are exploring Ireland, and a number of other EU member states, as a potential licensing jurisdiction in which to base their EU broadcasting services." A representative of the Dutch media regulator had no immediate comment.

Bloomberg

Irish Independent

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