Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Broadcasters' Brexit Move a Boon to Netherlands, Study Shows

  • Companies set to favor Dutch regulations, lack of barriers
  • Ireland, Belgium also likely to benefit, researcher EMP says

International broadcasters are most likely to move their U.K.-based operations to the Netherlands if Brexit hurts their ability to transmit into the European Union, according to a study by researcher Expert Media Partners.

The Dutch regulatory environment, ease of doing business and lack of language barriers makes it well-placed to benefit from any Brexit exodus, said Ed Hall, managing partner of EMP. For Britain, such a shift could mean the loss of at least hundreds of creative jobs as well as tax revenue.

Media companies such as Discovery Communications Inc., Time Warner Inc.’s Turner International and Sweden’s Modern Times Group AB are weighing whether to shift operations to preserve access to the EU. Akin to global banks, the broadcasters use U.K. licenses to access the continent under the so-called country of origin principle, and must decide quickly if Britain’s break from the bloc will disrupt that regime.

The relocation issue “flashes red” and is the most critical Brexit issue for the U.K. media industry, Sharon White, the head of broadcast regulator Ofcom, said at the Royal Television Society biennial conference in Cambridge, England, on Thursday.

“We’re doing everything we can to represent the voice of the industry with government in terms of making the case for the country-of-origin principle featuring high in the negotiations,” White said.

After the Netherlands, the countries most likely to benefit from broadcasters’ Brexit-related relocation are Ireland, Estonia, Malta and Belgium, according to EMP.

“We have had in-depth conversations with regulators, governments, channel operators, infrastructure companies and lawyers across Europe,” Hall said. “This league table is a real snapshot of what is happening today.”

Asked about the issue at the RTS conference, U.K. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said she understands the concerns of broadcasters but couldn’t give a running commentary on the progress of the Brexit negotiations.

“I know what it is we need to deliver, and I know the challenges we face,” she said.

Global broadcasters bring a direct benefit of 400 million pounds ($543 million) to the British economy each year, according to the Commercial Broadcasters Association, while also creating spillover benefits for areas like post-production and technical services that support channels.

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