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Brexit brings huge channel license migration

Nearly three-quarters of cross-border TV channels in Europe now fall under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) jurisdiction of the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain.

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According to the European Audiovisual Observatory, quoting its MAVISE 2020 database on audiovisual services in Europe, 85% of TV channels addressing foreign European audiences fall within the jurisdiction of an European Economic Area (EEA) country. The Netherlands (32%), Luxembourg (22%) and Spain (18%) cumulatively accounted for over 70% of these channels at the end of 2020. While for the Netherlands and Spain – as for most Member States, the vast majority of jurisdiction claims are based on the head office establishment of the media service provider, for Luxembourg over 75% of channels fell within its jurisdiction due to usage of the satellite up-link situated there or the satellite capacity which it can offer.

MAVISE notes that between Brexit and the transposition of the revised AVMSD, the supply of audiovisual services has been experiencing a lot of commotion. In a quest to secure continuity in their distribution outside the UK traditionally UK-originating channels have been relocating over the past two years. Transnational networks such as Discovery, Disney, NENT, NBC, Viacom, Sony, SPI International, Turner as well as the internationally targeted versions of Sky and BBC networks represented around 250 broadcasting licences migrating during this period.

Most TV channels which relocated were cross-border services targeting foreign European audiences outside the country of origin. Half of the channels available in Europe outside their country of origin (as defined by the European regulations) fell under UK jurisdiction in 2018, as opposed to only 10% of them at the end of 2020.

This shift generated a fragmentation of the supply and consequently a repositioning of the main hubs for channels addressing European markets outside their market of origin. The Netherlands (27%), Luxembourg (19%), Spain (15%), the UK (10%) and France (6%) were the top five hubs of establishment for international networks in 2020. This snapshot is taken in a context in which post-Brexit consequences are still to be felt and the AVMSD transposition is yet to be completed across the board.

This AV market fragmentation was the result both of migrations and the continuity of a prominent trend towards diversification of the international TV channels in their new host territories. More additional localised versions (in terms of language, geographical scope and/or advertising) of international brand networks have been launched over the past year.

The vast majority (94%) of TV channels available in the 41 European countries covered by MAVISE originate from one of these countries and among these almost two out of three are under the jurisdiction of an EEA country. Broadband TV News

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