In 2007, he became co-chair after the resignation of Chris Albrecht, general manager of the network at the time, after being accused of assaulting his girlfriend. Mr. Plepler became CEO in 2013 and continued to demonstrate a talent for choosing topics that delighted critics while providing occasional thrills at a lower cost.
In the early stages of AT & T's acquisition of Time Warner, Mr. Plepler strongly suggested not to give up his independence during an interview at his usual place for lunch, a booth at Lambs Club, a restaurant located two blocks from his office. For HBO to thrive, he insisted that it would take a "wall of China" between HBO and its Dallas-based bosses. He also asked aloud why the CEO of AT & T, Randall Stephenson, would buy HBO if he had a plan that would involve "playing with a winning game".
Mr. Plepler's future was more clearly defined last June, when AT & T completed the acquisition of Time Warner, which also housed the Warner Bros. movie studio. and the CNN, TBS and TNT cable networks. This month, Mr. Stankey spoke to HBO employees at a public meeting in New York, warning them of a "difficult year" and telling them that it "would look like a delivery".
There was a moment of public conflict between Mr. Stankey and Mr. Plepler during this session.
"We have to make money at the end of the day, do not we?" Said Stankey.
"We do that," replied Plepler.
"Yes, you have," said Mr. Stankey. "Just not enough."
His candid statements did not please some employees. And Mr. Plepler, who had been used to running his own store, seemed to be dull under his new boss since the beginning, according to several people close to the company.
The agreement between AT & T and HBO was signed on Tuesday when the US Court of Appeals rejected the government's ultimate attempt to break the merger. After the decision, the Justice Department said it would not appeal, thus leaving AT & T free to do everything to carry out its projects.
His departure shows that AT & T will probably be an active steward of Warner Media and is ready to disrupt a profitable and thriving division that is his crown jewel.