Jan 272019

BBC moving to Belgium after Brexit?

The BBC is reportedly looking for a European base of operations post-Brexit, altough the broadcaster remains tight-lipped about such a move.

“The BBC is planning, given Brexit, to open a major base on the continent,” a Belgian government source told AFP, confirming press reports.

In case of a ‘no-deal-Brexit’ the BBC is set to lose the international distribution of its domestic channels in Ireland, The Netherlands and Belgium.

At the moment, five domestic BBC channels are distributed via cable and IPTV networks, as a result of so-called ‘overspill’ reception in the three neighbouring countries. The channels involved are BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four, CBeebies and CBBC. Distribution of these channels brings in a significant amount of money for the BBC. Under European law, it was possible for distribution platforms to carry these channels, who operate under a UK Ofcom licence.

After a ‘no-deal-Brexit’ these UK licences are no longer be valid in the European Union and distributing platforms such as Telenet in Belgium and Ziggo and KPN in The Netherlands will have to cease distribution of the domestic channels.

Getting a broadcast licence in another country would require the BBC to have their head office (of the international operations), a significant part of their workforce (at least the people who are responsible for programming) and a satellite up-link in the country to qualify for a licence there. Another example of Brexit costing UK taypayers more money…

The commercial channels of the BBC, such as BBC First, BBC Entertainment and BBC World News will not be affected, but the British broadcaster will need to apply for an EU licence in another country in the Union.

Many broadcasters, including Turner Broadcasting System, Discovery, and NBC Universal have moved operations and applied for licences for their international channels previously licensed by Ofcom in other European countries.

Of the 1,039 cable and satellite TV channels licensed by UK-regulator Ofcom, 700 target other countries. According to business information provider IHS Markit, the companies most affected include Discovery, with more than 100 channels licensed by Ofcom, Sky and Sony, with 40 channels each. More than 100 channels that reach viewers in the UK and Republic of Ireland would require also re-licensing.


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