Oprah Winfrey, Discovery to launch cable network

Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:08pm EST
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By Michele Gershberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey will create a U.S. cable network with Discovery Communications and said she would soon consider the future of the top-rated weekday television show that has made her a household name.

Winfrey's exclusive distribution contract for "The Oprah Winfrey Show" is due to expire in May 2011, but an option to end the show as early as 2010 means its fate will likely be the subject of discussion this fall, she said on Tuesday.

"One day the show has to end," Oprah said on a conference call to announce the Discovery deal. "That may be in 2011 and it may be after 2011."

The Discovery deal represents a major expansion of Winfrey's media reach, which also includes feature films, "O, The Oprah Magazine," a satellite radio program and a Web site.

"OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network" will be owned jointly by Winfrey's Harpo Productions and Discovery and dedicated to inspiring viewers to "live their best lives," the two companies said.

It will debut in 2009 in more than 70 million U.S. homes, appearing on what is now the Discovery Health Channel.

"Fifteen years ago, I wrote in my journal that one day I would create a television network, as I always felt my show was just the beginning of what the future could hold," Winfrey said.

Winfrey will serve as OWN's chairman and have full editorial control over its programming and branding. Harpo will produce shows for the network and other outlets as well.   Continued...

<p>Oprah Winfrey arrives at the premiere of "The Great Debaters" at the Arclight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California December 11, 2007. Winfrey and Discovery Communications said on Tuesday they would build a new cable television network, describing the venture as dedicated to inspiring viewers to "live their best lives." REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>