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Slide takes away TLC’s topper

Net cuts 24 from marketing and new media

After watching TLC slide 24% in overall viewers last year, longtime exec Roger Marmet Thursday ankled as general manager of the Discovery Networks-owned channel.

Separately, Discovery has cut 24 staffers from its marketing and new media operations, including senior VP-general manager of interactive Bill Allman. Both ops are responsible for the company’s five fully distributed nets and nine digital spinoffs.

Discovery will hire 50 new employees to streamline and beef up the programming, sales and research departments across all cablers.

Marmet will be replaced in the coming weeks. Insiders suggest Discovery Channel execs Abby Greensfelder, who is head of programming, and VP of development Sean Gallagher are likely candidates.

Discovery senior VP of communications David Leavy said Marmet and Discovery Networks topper Billy Campbell butted heads over TLC’s direction. “Billy has a different long-term vision for the future of the network,” said Leavy.

Marmet has been with TLC for 12 years and was upped to general manager in April 2002. Exec’s biggest success was makeover skein “Trading Spaces.” Franchise had, until recent months, been the sole driver in revving up TLC into a top 10 cabler. Diluted by numerous copycat series, however, the skein has declined steeply in ratings to the detriment of the entire net.

There has been speculation over the past year that Discovery Networks has been getting itself in shape to be more attractive to a buyer; company has said it has no interest in being acquired. Discovery is owned by John Malone’s Liberty Media, which has a 49% stake, Cox and Advance/Newhouse.

(John Dempsey contributed to this report.)