About the project

The project examines the potential effect of Brexit on the UK’s communications sector. The UK is an international base for communications services abroad. Communications services include traditional media such as television channels, on-demand services and other programming via satellite, broadband and the internet, as well as newer cross-border data collection and transfer services. With the end to roaming charges in 2017, broadcast and other services will be increasingly downloaded via mobile phones.

The hypothesis, in the case of this project, is that UK-based stakeholders and global firms currently view the UK as an effectively regulated hub for European-based communications industries. Companies working in the sector are governed by national regulatory authorities (NRAs) such as the ICO, OFCOM and ;the ASA eg OFCOM licenses 1577 television channels broadcasting across Europe and, from 1 January, 2016, has assumed responsibility for regulation of on-demand services. This has reduced regulatory costs for companies and at the same time negotiated EU solutions to cross-border trade discrepancies have produced satisfactory outcomes for Member States.

If the UK were to withdraw from the EU, but remain a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), companies would remain regulated by EU legislation under the EEA’s Single Market agreement. However, the UK would no longer be participant to Brussels' decision-making. How could future Directives and/or revisions to existing Directives and other EU legislation affect UK interests? What effect would a Brexit have on EU communications regulation as a whole?

This project explores these scenarios with two case studies: cross-border broadcasting services and rules on data transfer and use. The focus is on three pieces of European legislation currently under negotiation: the General Data Protection Regulation, revision of the ePrivacy Directive and the revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.


The project is part of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative funded by the ESRC, which is based at Kings College London. Alison Harcourt receives funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) project Reference: ES/N015460/1. This research project does not reflect the views of the research councils.