Belgians lobbying BBC to move to Brussels after Brexit, reveals director-general

Embargoed to 0001 Wednesday January 23 File photo dated 21/12/2018 of the logo on BBC's Broadcasting House in London. Women a
Embargoed to 0001 Wednesday January 23 File photo dated 21/12/2018 of the logo on BBC's Broadcasting House in London. Women at the BBC continue to be paid "far less" than men for the same work, a report into equal pay at the broadcaster has said.

Belgian officials are lobbying for a BBC move to Brussels after Brexit, the director-general has revealed.

Lord Tony Hall said there are also efforts to set up a base for the broadcaster in Amsterdam dependent on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

The director-general said it would be a means to maintain channels on the continent which would require licences in the European Union in order to continue being broadcast.

Lord Hall giving evidence to the Public Accounts Select Committee at the House of Commons
Lord Hall giving evidence to the Public Accounts Select Committee at the House of Commons (House of Commons/PA)

Lord Hall said he hopes BBC operations can all remain in the UK, and no decision has been made ahead of the Brexit deadline of March 29.

He also added that any BBC presence across the Channel would be minimal and constitute just a “handful” of staff.

Questioned at a Public Accounts Committee hearing by Labour MP Meg Hillier, Lord Hall was asked if the BBC would be moving.

He said: “The Belgians have been lobbying for it to be Brussels, others have been saying Amsterdam, others have been saying whatever.

“There is no decision and we’re just waiting to see what happens over the next few months.

“We might not need to make it. I hope we don’t need to make that decision, because actually far better to run everything from here.”

Lord Hall has not revealed the other potential locations the BBC might choose in order to maintain its broadcast rights for international channels such as BBC First, BBC Earth, BBC World and BBC Entertainment.

The director-general said the plans and lobbying process are simply a prudent measure to keep European audiences.

He told the committee: “It depends on what happens. It’s simply us being cautious. We have channels that we run, markets in the rest of Europe, that we want to continue to be doing.

“If we were to move somewhere, and it depends entirely on what happens with the negotiations with Brexit and so on,  if we were to move somewhere it would be a handful of people, four or five people.”

It is thought UK licences may not be valid for broadcast across the EU following Brexit, although UK programming will still be classed as European for the purposes of other nations’ strict quotas on artistic material from the continent being broadcast.

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