The BBC is in talks with Irish and Dutch authorities to obtain broadcast licences allowing it to continue broadcasting across the European Union in the event of a no-deal Brexit, reports Bloomberg, citing two people familiar with the matter.
The BBC needs European licences for its international channels including BBC World, BBC First, BBC Entertainment and BBC Earth in order to continue to have its channels distributed across Europe. In addition, five domestic BBC channels (BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four, CBeebies and CBBC) are also being distributed by cable networks in Ireland, The Netherlands and Belgium.
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.
A BBC spokesman told Bloomberg the organisation will keep the situation “under close review to ensure that we can continue to best serve our audiences in any changed regulatory environment.”
The Irish regulator BAI 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.”
Over 500 pan-European channels currently use an Ofcom-issued licence and the United Kingdom is the most significant hub for linear and on-demand services targeting other countries. Following a ‘No deal Brexit’ such licences might become invalid.
However, 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.
Meanwhile, other inter national broadcasters have already taken steps to secure broadcast licences in Europe, including Turner Broadcasting System Deutschland and NBC Universal Global Networks Deutschland.
In a related development, the European Audiovisual Observatory has just published a new report, Brexit: The impact on the audiovisual sector. The 80-page report is available free from the website of the European Audiovisual Observatory (download will start automatically).