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International Broadcasting Businesses

Volume 645: debated on Thursday 19 July 2018

5. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on negotiating a deal to support international broadcasting businesses maintaining their UK base after the UK leaves the EU. (906539)

The Department is working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to understand the complexities of the issue relating to broadcasting. Together we are listening to the international broadcasting sector to understand its needs and concerns. I was very pleased to address the Creative Industries Federation in March.

Is the Minister aware that the Commercial Broadcasters Association has expressed its concern about the lack of clarity in the Government’s proposals post Brexit, particularly for international TV channels based in the UK, which are currently worth more than £1 billion to the economy and provide one in five jobs in the broadcasting sector? At the moment, UK-based international TV channels have a licence for the rest of the EU, and the Commercial Broadcasters Association is concerned that it is not clear whether that will continue. We are already seeing international broadcasters moving, so what steps are the Government taking?

The Prime Minister’s Mansion House speech committed to exploring creative options, with an open mind, to replace the country of origin principle enshrined in the audiovisual media services directive. The UK’s position represents the best credible proposal for the future relationship. It reflects the EU’s aim, as stated in Council guidelines, of allowing market access to provide services under host state rules.

The hon. Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire) is leaping to her feet with a vigour and enthusiasm that reminds me of my younger self.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Given that the advice the Government now seem to be hinting at—that businesses should prepare for a no deal situation—looks an awful lot like the consequences that we remainers were criticised for raising during the referendum as “Project Fear”, does the Minister understand why the creative and digital industries in my constituency, of which there are many, do not trust the Government to negotiate on their behalf one little bit?

I know how experienced the hon. Lady is in the arts sector. The White Paper proposes new arrangements for services and for the creative and digital sectors, recognising that the UK and the EU will not have the current levels of access to each other’s markets. The EU and the UK included broadcasting in the joint list of topics for discussion in the future framework, which reflects our shared understanding of the importance of the sector as a whole. Obviously, it is the responsible duty of the Government to prepare for all outcomes.