Brexit could have far-reaching consequences for the licensing of TV channels within the EU.
While having the potential to threaten the UK as a major industry hub, it could open up opportunities for other countries to take its place.
One of those countries is Estonia, and this was explained to Broadband TV News during a meeting with Tallinn-based Levira at IBC last week.
A recent report by Expert Media Partners (EMP) entitled Brexit and the UK Television Industry provides good background to the EU licensing system and the changes that could happen. Looking at the EU’s Country of Origin (COO) principle, which is enshrined in the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) and creates a common area for broadcasters, it says that most experts and industry leaders now agree that Brexit will put the UK outside the AVMSD and threaten the country’s status as a major TV industry hub.
The figures the report quotes are quite startling. There are currently over 4,600 TV channels established in the main EU markets, with the UK having the largest base for EU-licensed channels. Indeed, of the 1,400+ UK-licensed TV channels, 1,023 are exported to the rest of the EU and other countries.
The latter figure is almost nine times greater than second and third placed Germany (143) and the Czech Republic (141), closely followed by France (133) and the Netherlands (114).
Importantly, the report also says that the situation is more balanced in the VOD services sector, with the three largest players being based in three member states, namely the UK (Amazon Prime), Netherlands (Netflix) and Ireland (iTunes Store).
Furthermore, it makes clear that each market has a different set of regulations. For instance, in the Czech Republic they include a requirement for more than half of total broadcasting time to be allocated to European productions and at least 10% to European works produced by independent producers.
As for Estonia’s pitch, EMP has evaluated the prospects of different countries in offering licences and placed it in third place in terms of attractiveness, using a number of parameters, after the Netherlands and Ireland.
While the run-up to Brexit is far from smooth and the consequences for the UK’s TV industry are anything but clear, a small number of broadcasters are already taking matters into their own hands and seeking licences in other EU countries. Estonia could well become a surprise beneficiary of this process.