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Shapiro-Mathes Out, O’Neill In at TLC

Discovery Communications is replacing TLC president and general manager Angela Shapiro-Mathes with Planet Green president and GM Eileen O’Neill.

O’Neill will continue to be based in Discovery’s Silver Spring, Md., headquarters.

“As a flexible company with a culture of accountability, we have to acknowledge when things do not go as planned,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav wrote in an e-mail to staffers. “Unfortunately, the recent strategy for TLC did not meet our ratings or operational goals. I am committed to improving upon these processes and lessons learned and restoring TLC to its full creative and business potential.”

Shapiro-Mathes, who assumed her leadership role at TLC in July 2007, oversaw the network’s move to Los Angeles, a first for any Discovery-owned channel. As a result of the leadership change, some elements of TLC that had been relocated last year are expected to return to Discovery’s East Coast headquarters.

“The TLC team in L.A. will continue business as usual while Eileen, Adria [Alpert-Romm] and I review structural needs on both coasts,” Zaslav said in the e-mail.

She also brought the Miss America Pageant to the network, brought host Paige Davis back to Trading Spaces and signed a development deal with talk-show host Kelly Ripa.

In her new role, O’Neill will be tasked with forming a new programming strategy for TLC.

“A cornerstone of the strategy will be storytelling around strong characters in the spirit of Little People, Big World, and of uplifting personal improvement as seen each week in What Not to Wear,” Zaslav said in the e-mail. “I am confident that Eileen understands TLC’s core audience and has the creative sensibilities to develop new programming consistent with its historical mission and that speaks to our audience's many life challenges and opportunities.”

O’Neill is a 17-year veteran of Discovery Communications, managing Discovery Health Channel before moving to Planet Green. She also oversaw TLC in an interim role last year, leading into the hiring of Shapiro-Mathis.

Planet Green launched June 4 following more than one year in development.

With the departure of O’Neill, Discovery tapped Clark Bunting, currently president of Discovery’s Emerging Networks Group, to oversee Planet Green until new executive leadership is named.

“My thanks to Angela for her hard work, leadership and passion over the past year,” Zaslav said in a statement. “She has diversified TLC’s programming mix and increased the network’s development presence in Los Angeles.”

He added, “Eileen is a proven cable programmer and has guided one of the most successful network introductions in Planet Green. Her exceptional reputation and understanding of TLC’s passionate audience makes Eileen the perfect executive to lead TLC.”

The company said the move was part of "a change in the creative and organizational direction for TLC."

(Click here to watch a video Q&A with O’Neill.)