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Plepler to Become HBO CEO When Nelson Retires at Year-End

HBO CEO Bill Nelson will retire at year-end, and Richard Plepler, who had been co-president since 2007, will succeed him.

Under another change in the premium programmer's executive suite, Eric Kessler, who had also been co-president, has been elevated to president and COO. For his part, Michael Lombardo will remain president of programming.

Both Kessler and Lombardo will report to Plepler.

Nelson has been CEO of HBO since 2007 after serving as COO since 2002. During his tenure, the pay cable leader has continued to dominate awards show nominations, including a recent 81 Emmy nominations and launched HBO Go, its authenticated streaming service. The company has also expanded its international businesses considerably, and now counts some 100 million subscribers worldwide.

“Bill and I have worked together for many, many years and though I’m sad to see him leave, I respect his decision to enjoy retirement.  He is a world-class CEO and leaves the company well-positioned for the future,” said Jeff Bewkes, chairman and CEO of Time Warner Inc. “The company will not miss a step with the new team, which has the combination of talent and experience to drive HBO to new heights of creative excellence, innovation, and financial performance. Richard and Eric are twenty-plus year veterans of the company who, as co-presidents, helped HBO re-establish its preeminence over the past five years, and Mike Lombardo has done an exceptional job in developing the best slate in HBO’s history.”

During his days as co-president, Plepler has greenlit some of the network’s most notable series, including vampire skeinTrue Blood, prohibition-era drama Boardwalk Empire, and the fantasty show Game of Thrones, as well as rookie-season Emmy comedy award nominees Girls and Veep. Plepler joined HBO in 1992 as senior vice president of corporate communications, before promoted to executive vice president from 2002-07.

HBO's chairman and CEO since 2007, Nelson had been the company's COO beginning in 2002, with responsibilities for domestic and international marketing and affiliate relations for HBO and Cinemax various multiplex networks. He also had oversight of  the company's global home video distribution, content and licensing disclipline. Film acquisitions, finance and legal matters, as well its human resources, were also under his watch.

Nelson began at Time Inc. 33 years ago as director, external reporting and risk management. He joined HBO in May 1984 as vice president and assistant controller, becoming vice president and controller the following July and then advancing to senior vice president and CFO in September 1991.  In April 1994, he was elevated to executive vice president before rising to COO in 2002.