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TLC GM Resigns; Discovery Lays Off 24

1/27/2005 3:40 PM Eastern

The general manager of ratings-beleaguered TLC resigned Thursday, the same day that parent Discovery Networks U.S. laid off roughly two-dozen employees, including the GM of its interactive division.

Roger Marmet is exiting TLC, which has been in a viewership nosedive, because Discovery Networks president Billy Campbell said he wanted to steer a new course for the network, according to David Leavy, senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications for Discovery Communications Inc.

“Billy wanted to take the channel in a different creative direction,” Leavy said.

In an unrelated reorganization, Discovery Networks let go two-dozen employees Thursday, mainly in its marketing and new-media departments, according to Leavy. Among those who have been let go was Bill Allman, senior VP and GM of the interactive division.

In total, Discovery Networks is eliminating 39 positions, some of which are currently vacant, Leavy said.

Marmet and Allman couldn’t be reached for comment. As for Marmet’s replacement, Leavy said, “We have a strong internal candidate and hope to have an announcement shortly.”

Since Campbell plans to hire 40 people this year, the positions being lost now will ultimately “zero out,” Leavy added.

The reorganization reflected Campbell’s efforts to streamline operations and find efficiencies in terms of operating the 14 cable networks that that are under his wing, according to Leavy.

“It’s just prudent and smart business planning to look at areas where you can zero out, create efficiencies,” Leavy said. “Certainly, technology is allowing us to be more productive. Unfortunately, a number of those positions have been eliminated.”

For example, in terms of marketing and branding Discovery’s many domestic networks, Leavy said, “They needed to realign themselves in a smarter way.”

In terms of layoffs in the new-media group -- which handles new platforms like video-on-demand, wireless and online -- Discovery is “just trying to be smart about where the assets are,” he added.

Marmet’s exit comes on the heels of TLC’s news earlier this week that Paige Davis was leaving as host of Trading Spaces,and that the show was going in a new direction.

In total, parent DCI will have 300 new hires this year, and it had 300 last year, according to Leavy.

“So that’s about 600 new jobs over this 18-month period,” he added.

Discovery’s priorities this year include a focus on “T-commerce,” which will come under the wing of Frank Rosales, who was named president of Discovery’s retail and licensing unit earlier this week.

Discovery’s FitTV will be working with its corporate cousin, QVC. “We really feel there is a potential play there,” Leavy said.

Another priority is the Discovery Education group, or “creating a stand-alone broadband product” that will act as a “video encyclopedia” for classrooms, according to Leavy.

September