Get your audio business Brexit Ready – keep calm and carry on!

Despite the granting of a Brexit extension, it’s still important to think about how leaving the EU might affect your business, suggests media lawyer Paul March.

AudioUK has produced a series of podcasts to help prepare you and your audio business for Brexit, whenever it might happen. Listen as Georgie Frost gets tips and advice from people with experience of everything from intellectual property and HR to business contracts and working with staff and companies in different countries.

In the latest of our features to help you prepare for the UK’s departure from the EU, AudioUK’s legal counsel offers some reassurances that your business won’t impacted too much by Brexit.

If you or your business is producing audio content that involves licensing deals across European countries or regular travel then Brexit may bring a few extra bits of paperwork. But in reality how much effect will the UK’s departure from the EU (when/if it actually happens!) have on the radio and audio sector?

Paul March is a media lawyer and Legal Counsel to AudioUK. He provides support and advice to members via AudioUK’s Legal Services Scheme.

His main advice on Brexit planning is “keep calm and carry on!”

“Don’t be too worked up by it – change is inevitable and the only constant in life is change,” says Paul. “Things will resettle, they will realign – but I think anybody who’s saying they know how it’s going to realign, not least because of the domestic turbulence here, I think is selling you a pup!”

“There will at some point be an election – and a lot will then depend on who wins the election and the direction they will then take. What could change, especially if there ends up being a no-deal Brexit, are the rules around the Country of Origin principle. That’s the right that production companies in radio and TV have to distribute a programme, or allow it to be accessed, across the EU.

“There’s a reciprocity – effectively Europe at the moment operates as a single economic space,” Paul tells us. “In the same way that there’s no difference between being in New York or Michigan if you are in the US, there is currently no difference between being in the United Kingdom and France in terms of the economic transfer of works. All that falls away if we exit without a deal.

“That’s not to say the British government wouldn’t want to roll that over – it is likely that we would want to because the UK is by far the greatest intellectual property producer, in terms of programming, in Europe. But there’s no guarantee that the Europeans would allow us to roll it over in the event of a no-deal.”

How many audio production companies that might affected by this is not clear, but Paul doesn’t think it will be a lot, as most business tends to be within the UK at the moment.

“I couldn’t give you a percentage because I would be guesstimating it, but I would be very surprised, particularly with our Audio UK members, if it’s not 90% plus that operate just within the UK economic space. And so whilst this change is unsettling and unnerving for many people, I think it would be very sad if people put on hold their creative aspirations and their dreams to build something because of the fact that there are these changes.

Much has been written and broadcast about how Northern Ireland might be affected by Brexit, especially if the government’s latest Withdrawal Agreement with the EU is passed by Parliament. Paul March thinks it could bring some benefits to the audio sector.

“Assuming we’re looking at a deal, Northern Ireland will emerge from this with a somewhat unique position – both within the United Kingdom but effectively having seamless access to the European market. I think if it wanted to play those cards in a certain way it could be the natural place for various UK entities to have a base where they were looking to access the European market.”

And for people with ideas in creative industries like ours, there’s never been a better time to be able to make some great content and then find the right platform on which to distribute it. “There are real opportunities and I wouldn’t want people to be too fearful,” concludes Paul. “Yes, this will have implications and I can’t pretend otherwise – particularly for touring or things where audio is being recorded outside the United Kingdom. But I think for a lot of AudioUK members, nothing will change. At least for some period of time.”

You can listen to more advice on the Brexit Ready podcast – and use the government’s online checker to see what you or your business should be doing to prepare for Brexit.