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Discovery preps for no-deal Brexit

Discovery is preparing to move its European HQ out of London and has applied for broadcast licences in the Netherlands to protect its channels in the European Union (EU) in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The US media giant has applied for EU licences for its portfolio of pay TV channels throughout Europe in the Netherlands, where it has had an office since 1989.

This will now grow as a result of Discovery’s fears over the UK exiting the EU without a deal in place, as all channels that broadcast in the EU require a licence in an EU country.

New roles are set to be created in Amsterdam and a number of positions will move from London to the Dutch capital, the company said in a statement. The precise number of roles was not specified.

Discovery added that it is “retaining a large hub in the UK and has renewed on a long term the lease for its main London office in West London, which houses more than 1,000 people.”

The company is retaining UK licences for its 16 channels in the country, which include Animal Planet and Eurosport, while it also holds equity stakes in UK companies such as UKTV and All3Media.

The Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA), which counts Discovery among its members, has repeatedly warned that a no-deal Brexit would cause major problems for the UK’s lucrative international broadcast sector.

The UK is home to around 650 international channels, more than any other European country, and COBA has consistently warned of the dangers the industry will face if an agreement over the future relationship between the UK and the EU is not struck by the March 29 deadline.

UK prime minister Theresa May is set to use a speech today to warn that parliament is more likely to block Brexit than let the UK leave without a deal, in order to gain more backing for her Brexit deal.

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