Disney reviewing options on Oprah replacement
By Sue Zeidler
NEW YORK (Reuters) - ABC television can wait 12 to 15 months before it decides how to fill the gap left by daytime TV queen Oprah Winfrey, who plans to end her talk show in 2011, said Disney/ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney.
"Oprah has given us two years' notice, which is not something you generally see in television," Sweeney told Reuters on Monday. "We are certainly in the process right now of reviewing our options."
Sweeney, who is also co-chair of Disney Media Networks and oversees the ABC Television Network, described Winfrey as "one of a kind" but nonetheless said she could foresee a "myriad" of ways to replace the TV star.
Sweeney declined to comment on any specific replacements for Winfrey's show.
"I think it's going to be really interesting to see who comes forward and who emerges during this time as the next great idea, personality and then the next great piece of programing," she said.
"It's a matter of understanding the marketplace and thinking about what it's going to look like in two years and what is the best thing that you could be programing at that hour for consumers, and I think it's going to vary station to station," she said.
Winfrey will end her show to focus on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, a cable channel to be launched in partnership with Discovery Communications Inc.
Analysts say Disney and its ABC stations, which carry the show, could lose out financially from Oprah's decision. The show's large audiences have long boosted ratings and advertising for the stations and their local newscasts that follow it.
(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis)
(Reporting by Sue Zeidler and Paul Thomasch, editing by Tiffany Wu, Derek Caney, Dave Zimmerman)
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