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Discovery Communications Is on the Move

Discovery communications is taking its act to Broadway.

The programming giant, close to finalizing its $14.6 billion purchase of Scripps Networks Interactive, has disclosed plans to shutter its Silver Spring, Md., headquarters by 2019, moving its base to New York.

In a memo to employees Jan. 9, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said the intention was to close the Silver Spring HQ and sell it by 2019. The company also plans to consolidate technical operations at a new National Operations Center within Scripps’ Knoxville, Tenn., campus after the deal is closed, expected in the first quarter.

But New York is at the center of Discovery’s new blueprint. According to the company, the plan will be to consolidate Discovery and Scripps team members currently scattered between four city locations into a new Global Headquarters, for which planning is underway. Discovery hopes to move into a new building in Manhattan in the second half of 2019.

Discovery has deep roots in Maryland: Founder John Hendricks launched the Discovery Channel in 1985 in Landover to provide documentary programming to cable operators, moving to Bethesda in 1991 and opening its Silver Spring headquarters in 2003.

“This was one of the toughest calls we have made in our company’s history, and we do not take it lightly,” Zaslav said in the memo. “Maryland is where the magic of Discovery first began.”

Discovery currently has about 1,300 employees in Maryland. The company will maintain some presence in the area. It plans to maintain a Network Hub in Maryland that will house functions like government relations and its Discovery Education division and will transform its Sterling, Va., location into a Technology Hub. But many employees will be relocated between the new sites.

No word on whether the transition will include layoffs, and Discovery said none are in the current cards. But asking employees to uproot their families to either New York or Knoxville will likely result in some non-takers. And once the Scripps deal is finalized, redundant positions could be eliminated.