Losing access to EU markets from Brexit could jeopardize up to £1 billion in annual investment from international broadcasters to the U.K.’s television sector, according to a new report from the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA).

Research commissioned by COBA, the industry body for multichannel broadcasters, from analysis firm Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates reveals that international broadcasters invested a record £1.02 billion in the U.K. last year, up more than 50 percent on 2011. However, this investment is at risk with Brexit looming unless the U.K. government secures access to EU markets.

Under current EU rules, any Member State must recognize a broadcast license granted to a broadcaster by another Member State. Once the U.K. leaves the EU, if alternative arrangements aren’t made, international broadcasters will have to restructure their European operations in order to qualify for a broadcast license from a country within the EU.

Currently, there are around 1,400 channels based in the U.K., representing more than a third of all EU broadcasters. More than half (761) of the channels licensed in the U.K. actually broadcast to overseas countries, not to the U.K. The number of non-domestic channels based in the U.K. is growing quicker than domestic ones—17 percent a year for international channels compared to 11 percent for U.K. channels.

Adam Minns, COBA’s executive director, said: “The U.K. is Europe’s number one broadcasting hub for good reason and no one wants to restructure their business. But if a U.K. broadcasting license is no longer recognized by the EU, international channels will have no choice. This report shows the immense value they have for the U.K., and the huge potential for future growth—if we can get this right.

“We also call on both the U.K. and the EU to provide clarity on transitional arrangements quickly, to provide security for businesses and their employees in both the U.K. and the EU. Broadcasters cannot wait until the cliff edge in March 2019 before making these decisions, they need to plan any restructuring well in advance.”

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By Expat