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Discovery Expands Duties For O’Neill, Kaplan, Schleiff

Discovery Communications said it would realign executive oversight of several of its cable networks, in a move it said would group the outlets together by theme. And it broadened the number of networks being supervised by three top managers: Eileen O’Neill, Marjorie Kaplan and Henry Schleiff.

O’Neill, who gained fame in the media industry for building up TLC, then taking oversight of Discovery, will lead what the company sees as its male-skewing networks: Discovery, Science Channel and Velocity. Kaplan, who had been leading Animal Planet, adds TLC to her portfolio, part of an effort to group together the company’s networks focused on reality entertainment. And Schleiff, who oversees Investigation Discovery, Destination America and American Heroes, will gain supervision of Discovery Fit & Health, placing all of the company’s emerging outlets under his aegis.

The reshuffling removes TLC from O’Neill’s direct supervision for the first time since 2008. O’Neill was instrumental in transforming the outlet from something once envisioned as “The Learning Channel” into a showcase for character-driven reality programs like “Jon& Kate Plus Eight” or “Cake Boss.” Under O’Neill’s oversight, TLC even put a program on the air featuring former U.S. Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin on the screen.

Discovery said the current leadership of each channel would remain in place. Debbie Myers, general manager of Science Channel, and Bob Scanlon, general manager of Velocity, will now report to O’Neill, while Nancy Daniels, general manager of TLC, will report to Kaplan.

In a memo to employees, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said the moves were aimed at fostering better creative collaboration in the U.S. to better fuel what he sees as Discovery Communications’ growth opportunity: placing its programming overseas. Keeping The company’s “domestic content engine” in shape to “support our global distribution growth overall” is “key to our success,” Zaslav said.

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