Discovery Adding European HQ in Netherlands Ahead of Brexit

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Discovery CEO David Zaslav

The company currently runs its European channels, including sports network Eurosport and Animal Planet, out of its main office in West London, but all TV channels broadcast into the EU require a license in an EU country.

Discovery is applying for broadcasting licenses in the Netherlands and could move its European pay-TV operations there from London should the U.K. drop out of the European Union (EU) in a no-deal Brexit.

Discovery currently runs its European channels, including sports network Eurosport and Animal Planet, out of its main office in West London. But all TV channels broadcast into the EU require a license in an EU country. The British government has not made it clear whether, post-Brexit, U.K. broadcasters will still qualify and how such licensing will work.

Discovery, like the vast majority of the U.K. media industry, has cautioned against Brexit and warned of the negative impact of Britain leaving the EU, particularly without a deal.

The U.K. is Europe's leading international broadcasting center, with some 650 international channels headquartered there. But with some 450 million citizens, continental Europe is a much vaster TV market than Britain alone and few broadcasters want to be shut out.

Discovery said it will maintain its London office as well as its U.K. broadcasting licenses. The group employs more than 1,000 people in the U.K. and has equity stakes in several British companies, including UKTV, All3 Media and Play Sports Group.

The U.K. has yet to reach a deal with the European Union to govern everything from trade to regulation for the period after the U.K. leaves the EU. If Brexit is not postponed, or canceled, London will crash out without a deal on March 29.