For the benefit of everyone within the broadcast industry, the UK must remain part of the EU argues Peter Savage.
It is said that, in polite company, one should never discuss politics, religion, sex or money.
Well, dear reader, assuming we are in polite company (and I’m sure we are), I’m going to break two of those taboos right now. But don’t worry I won’t be discussing my bedroom antics or evolution versus creation. Not today anyway.
I do, however, want to discuss politics and money and a fraught political topic: the subject of Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU), and its direct importance to the broadcast industry.
My mind is clear when it comes to any in-out referendum on the EU: we should stay in.
With apologies to those of you for whom this is blindingly obvious, from a trading perspective, by being in the EU, we benefit from being in the European single market. It is the largest international single market in the world and its existence has led to not just greater competition in services but also the removal of trade barriers, a reduction in business costs and the almost complete elimination of anti-competitive practices.
For my own business, over many years, this has been incredibly beneficial. I don’t generally blow my own trumpet but let me give you some recent examples of deals done from our European offices.
In October 2015, via Harman Equipment Finance (which we operate) we provided €90,000 that paid for a French recording studios’ new SSL desk. That was just the tip of the iceberg. In November we funded a total of €1.2 million worth of kit in France. Last month €920,000 was provided to rental companies in France and Spain to pay for Martin Professional lights.
Germany is another key market for us. In 2015 we financed a SSL desk, provided €185,000 towards 4k camera kit and helped out one of the biggest event companies in Berlin to the tune of €250,000.
As you can see, the freedom to trade within Europe has been crucial for us. With a foothold in Europe we also have a huge advantage over our competitors at home because we can offer the ‘big’ customers cross-country deals. This has helped us to secure contracts that, had we been based solely in the UK, we would never have got. But I’m not just stating this opinion on Europe because it is self-serving (although clearly, being in the EU helps my company). I believe the TV industry benefits as a whole.
One example is BVE, which takes place next month at Excel in London. Many years ago, when it was The Production Show and Video Forum, I am fairly sure it was a parochial UK exhibition (although I am happy to be proved wrong). Now BVE attracts 5,000 visitors from more than 60 countries, although admittedly not all from Europe. Last year, in our various meetings and just wandering the stands, we saw for ourselves how it had become a European show.
In some cases we might speak different languages but, combined, we profit from our joint knowledge and expertise and from the access we gain to a wider choice of products and services. Leaving the EU, and the single market, could reduce this choice and increase regulation, trade barriers and the price of imports, even if we were to adopt a Free Trade Agreement with Europe. In my opinion, that would be a disaster. Now, I don’t want you to think that simply being part of Europe is enough. We still have to work hard to do business successfully. When we first opened an office in Germany we thought free trade and fancy premises would be enough to persuade local customers to use our services. We were wrong. Local knowledge is key. We found that potential customers weren’t willing to talk to us Brits about finance: it’s a big taboo over there.
If we’d had a local finance expert on board from the start then we could have built relationships with clients straight away, rather than waste valuable time and money. We learnt our lesson, put it right and have since benefitted. Now we even have our own dedicated German website. We’ve also recently launched web pages in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French. This has made a huge difference. It might be taboo to discuss politics and money but, when it comes to Europe, this is one subject that I feel passionately about. I sincerely hope the UK remains part of the EU: for everyone’s sake.
Peter Savage is the chief executive of Azule Finance
Article Via KIT PLUS