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COBA Seeks Answers on Brexit Buffer for Broadcasters

The Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA) wants some answers on how the British government's exit from the EU (Brexit) will be handled and whether there will be a buffer period after that exit.

"Like many sectors, international broadcasting cannot wait until the March 2019 'cliff edge' to undertake any restructuring that may be necessary as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU," COBA said. "Businesses need several months to put contingency plans into place, as this may involve significant changes to their operations."

COBA comprises a host of U.S. players doing business abroad, including 21st Century Fox, NBCU, A+E Networks, Turner, Discovery Inc. and The Walt Disney Co., as well as Sky, for which both NBCU parent Comcast and 21st Century Fox are bidding.

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“Without more certainty over whether the transition period will take place, we are certainly concerned that broadcasters will have to reluctantly start restructuring within the next few months, and possibly within weeks for some companies," said COBA executive director Adam Minns. "The UK has a leadership position as Europe’s international broadcasting hub for good reason – no one wants to have to restructure their businesses. But if these changes have to be made, companies will be forced to start the process well in advance of the cliff edge so they have sufficient time to manage the process."

The broadcasters want a "status quo" transition period, pointing out that international broadcasters invest more than $1 billion annually in the UK and support one in 10 UK TV jobs.

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.