Josh Berger, the president and managing director of Warner Bros Entertainment UK, Ireland and Spain, told delegates at RTS London that about half of the 1,100 licensed UK channels were aimed at audiences outside of the UK.
Historically channels have based themselves in the UK to take advantage of the country’s regulatory environment.
“If those licences are no longer useful then those broadcasters will have to move onto the continent to license their channels from somewhere that’s acceptable,” said Berger, adding that the business hired thousands of people. “It’s possible that channels if you can’t licence in London for a European network you’ll have to move.”
Former minister Lord Mandelson said there were thousands of different sectors of interest to the British economy that would take time to address. “For services you’re really talking about replacing our businesses shut out of the single market with a plethora of different agreements whether it’s audio visual or flying rights…we will be negotiating not just with 27 other countries but with sectors all of which will have their own view in if they still want to be integrated with our economy.”
John McVay, chief executive of PACT, expressed concern that the UK was already being sidelined in debates, such as that around the single country of origin rules. “By the back door they’ve introduced this and I fear that because of the hiatus around Brexit we’re not seen as a big player when we should have a voice on those debates.” Lord Mandleson suggested that there may have been a trade off with some wider issue that the UK government perceived to be more important, but in a later session Ofcom chief executive Sharon White insisted the UK still had a seat at the top table.