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'British TV channels in Europe could be off air in event of hard Brexit'

British television channels transmitted in Europe are facing an unpleasant surprise: in the event of a hard Brexit their licences will have to be sorted out correctly, otherwise TV screens may be going black.

Dirk Visser

'If British broadcasters have not sorted this out in time, it is a possibility', warns Dirk Visser, Professor of Intellectual Property Law in Dutch radio programme BNR Nieuwsradio. 'I am a lawyer myself, and we have already had three broadcasting companies come to our firm who say that they have a problem in the United Kingdom.'

European regulations are in place which state that if you broadcast within Europe, you only have to arrange broadcasting rights with the local equivalent of Buma/Stemra in one country. 'If you broadcast from outside Europe, then you will have to arrange that separately for 27 countries. That is 27 times more expensive and very complicated - a situation no one wants’, says Visser.

If no other agreement is reached before that time, the United Kingdom will leave the EU on 29 March. 'Broadcasting companies will try to make arrangements in time, but realistically you need 90 days to obtain a broadcasting licence in another European country. If you are not on time, there is a chance that these broadcasting companies may not be allowed to broadcast. Perhaps the broadcaster will not immediately be taken off air, but they are in breach of the law.’

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