Discovery Networks Europe has given itself breathing space in the continuing saga over who should transmit its 27 channels by extending its current playout contract with London Playout Centre (LPC) by 12 months.
Competitive pitches were invited for the multimillion pound contract early last year and many of the UK's transmission service providers are known to have been interested.
Although no firm reasons have been given for the decision to extend the contract rather than commit to a long-term deal, Broadcast understands that Discovery is still actively looking into various long-term options for the playout of its channels. Alternatives open to Discovery include buying or building its own dedicated facility or simply continuing to outsource the work. The contract extension means LPC will transmit Discovery channels until at least 31 October next year.
LPC's contract with Discovery goes back as far as January 1996 when the transmission provider was known as Thames and was based at Teddington Studios. At the time the deal was for a single 24-hour feed. LPC, which moved to Stephen Street in central London in June 1997, now transmits 27 Discovery channels to 47 countries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. More than 70 staff are detailed to cover the contract which also includes responsibility for Discovery's 100,000 plus tape inventory.
LPC, owned by RTL, is currently up for sale and several bids have been received for the purchase of the £30m-a-year company. A decision is expected shortly.