The licensing and regulatory regime in Brussels has been identified as the most attractive for organisations in the audiovisual sector looking to relocate to mainland Europe post-Brexit, according to a report released by Analysis Mason, a global consulting and research firm specialising in telecoms, media and digital services.

According to the report TV broadcasters, catch-up TV services and video-sharing platforms looking to operate continuously across Europe following Brexit – will be examining a range of criteria when selecting a new location, not least the local licensing and regulatory regimes.

Pascal Smet, Secretary of State for Foreign Trade of the Brussels Capital Region, commented: “Businesses operating in the audiovisual sector need to prepare now as the clock ticks down to the UK leaving on January 31st 2020 and ensure that they can continue to operate seamlessly across the UK and EU. The only way to guarantee this is to establish a base of operations within the EU.”

The research benchmarked both the licensing and regulatory environments in Brussels against three other cities looking to attract businesses – Amsterdam, Dublin and Paris. What has come out loud and clear is that Brussels has adopted the most flexible approach to both when compared to others.

“Brussels is thriving. This research confirms once more the attractiveness of Brussels as an investment hotspot for the audiovisual sector,” continues Mr Smet.

The report found that the audiovisual licensing regime in Brussels:

  • is comparatively simple
  • has no licensing fees
  • has an unlimited license duration provided that the establishment criteria are met

In comparison, Amsterdam, Dublin and Paris have a highly complex licensing environment dependent on the type of service provided and the type of license required.

The Brussels audiovisual regulatory regime is also a light touch implementation of the EU’s audiovisual media services Directive – or AVMSD, with minimal additional obligations imposed. The EU passed a revised AVMSD in 2018 designed to harmonise the regulatory framework for linear and non-linear audiovisual service providers. All EU governments are required to transpose the Directive into national law by September 2020 and Belgium aims to continue its current approach to media regulation.

UK-based broadcasters which currently air channels across Europe under an Ofcom licence will need a presence on the continent to continue broadcasting under an EU licence to these territories. EU funding schemes such as Creative Europe play a critical role in supporting the creative industries and, depending on the shape of the final relationship with the EU, UK businesses may lose access to this funding without a base in the EU. Many businesses in the creative sector also rely on the wider European talent pool to staff their businesses, and a common regulatory and legal framework to offer digital services across the continent and will need to co-locate themselves in the EU if they are to continue to access these benefits.

Brussels is the ideal location for any media organisation, from film production to video game development, to place their European and global-focused operations. Brussels offers attractive tax conditions for productions based in the city. Brussels also features a newly regenerated Media Park dedicated to the media and creative industries, already home to the national TV stations, with offices, workspaces, sports and leisure facilities and retail outlets. And screen.brussels, a public organisation backed by hub.brussels, offers business support, logistical advice and funding to audiovisual players and (co)productions.

“Brussels has a highly-educated local workforce, competitive real estate prices, and very attractive conditions for foreign nationals moving to our region. Just two hours from London on the Eurostar, and well-connected to Europe and the rest of the world, Brussels is a prime location for British and any other businesses looking to maintain and grow their presence on the European and global stage,” Smet concluded.

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By Expat