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BBC prepares move abroad

The BBC is preparing to move its channel licences, in order to keep its ability to broadcast outside of the UK.

As a result of an impending no-deal Brexit, the BBC is looking at having its international channels licensed in either the Republic of Ireland or The Netherlands, according to Bloomberg. As a result, a small number of staff are likely to have to move to the new base.

The change is required in order for the BBC to continue broadcasting its global news channel BBC World News in EU/EEA countries as well as its family of commercially funded entertainment channels, such as BBC First, BBC Entertainment and BBC Earth. All parties concerned have so far removed to confirm the report. Actual output will still be controlled and produced in the UK, with no change to the BBC's domestic services.

Its current licences issued by Ofcom are now highly likely to be no longer be valid for broadcast outside of the UK from the end of March 2019. Services, such as broadcasting, appear to have been left out of the deal that has been negotiated, although it is not certain if the House of Commons will vote for it in January.

However, while the change in jurisdiction will guarantee the distribution of the BBC's international channels in Europe, it's unclear how Brexit will affect the official distribution of BBC One and BBC Two in both The Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland, and whether it would be acceptable for the main BBC channels to be accountable to UK and foreign regulations - in both countries, the channels are carried on a number of networks as part of a commercial deal through BBC Studios, formerly BBC Worldwide. In contrast, the BBC's international channels have localised versions, through which they can tailor content in order to meet regulatory requirements around the world.

Earlier this month, a516digital identified the possible transfer of BBC broadcast licenses abroad as one of the most sensitive changes pending. Many international broadcasters are now in the process of moving their regulatory bases out of London, ending London's dominance as Europe's main broadcasting hub.  The same issues are also encountered in reverse: French broadcaster TV5MONDE has avoided the issue by discontinuing its signal in the UK - its French license wouldn't be valid in the UK.  It claimed it has listened to viewers by making its service online-only (and not requiring a UK broadcast licence) - a statement which has been highly contested by viewers on social media platforms. Most other foreign-language channels operating on Sky and other platforms are covered by an Ofcom licence, in addition to any broadcast licence they hold in their home country.