Oprah Gets Her OWN Channel
Harpo Productions will partner with Discovery
By Anne Becker and Marisa Guthrie -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/20/2008 7:00:00 PM
Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions and Discovery Communications will begin OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, featuring her brand of feel-good empowerment. It will replace Discovery Health Channel in 2009. The new network will also include Oprah.com, Winfrey's popular Website.
OWN will benefit from the distribution muscle of Discovery Health's 70 million homes, but it needs to build up viewership. Health averages only 60,000 viewers in total-day viewing watched during 2007, and that was down 6% over last year.
In one year, Discovery CEO David Zaslav has altered the programmer's portfolio of networks, including relaunching Discovery Home as eco-themed Planet Green and starting a new crime/investigations channel, Investigation Discovery. He trimmed some 26% of the work force, closed its retail stores and spearheaded a move to take the company public. In December, John Malone's Discovery Holding and Advance/Newhouse Communications said they will combine their stakes to create a new holding company for the media conglomerate.
Most if not all Discovery Health programming will be scrapped when OWN debuts. Instead, Winfrey will serve as chairman of OWN and have full editorial control. Ownership is a 50-50 split between Discovery and Harpo Productions. Winfrey had once owned a stake in Oxygen Media, but she said Oxygen "did not reflect my voice." OWN, she said, will produce "the kinds of shows that make my heart sing" and feature "mindful, not mindless television" programs.
Winfrey is locked into her syndicated show through 2011. She is to decide by this fall if she wants to keep doing the show in syndication past that date. If not, presumably, she could move it to OWN.
I never thought this would be written. Oprah, you need to prepare to crank up the steam regarding Obama. I believe it will be a C & O ticket. I'd like to suggest, holding a Ph.D. in the behavioral sciences, explore what the issues are that are going to 'scare' a few people to vote GOP. For instance, the abortion item and its' relation to the 1st Amendment will be a big item (they push on 'death' and not the 1st Amendment, of which they probably don't even connect). "Saving America" from "Towel Heads" (Muslims) will be another. How can you work with that? Another will be immigration. What are some topics that could be brought on your show? Can this be done? I am very afaid of the climate our country has taken for the last 8 years: preaching hate (against immigrants); assuming that God is on 'our side' (hello, who talked to God anyway and learned about this); focusing on war versus taking the monies spent ($300 billion PER year) and channeling that into alternative energy (solar, wind and ocean current); evaluating NAFTA (a reason I conclude could be related to increased crime, no jobs !); etc., etc. THESE are the issues, these are the issues that impact ALL Americans, not the 10 abortions performed out of 1,000 preganancies (for example). Just some thoughts. I admire your work and what you are attempting to do. As Americans, we are not longer the 'beacon of light' but the 'floodlight of embarrassments'. Thanks
JamesP - 3/6/2008 11:50:00 PM EST
Oprah Winfrey is the best thing that ever walked in her field/industry! Seems like she is using her power to help better this world instead of tear it down like others. Oprah rocks and in my book is doing it 'right' and may all the others follow her example.
Just me - 2/27/2008 10:26:00 AM EST
I am a huge fan of Oprah. My family and I are also huge fans of both the discovery channel and discovery health. I can''''''''t help but find it odd that a strong arm company such as HARPO would feel that it would be appropriate to take over a network under such a name as OWN. How self-centered can you possibly be? I don''''''''t understand how to explain to my children the differance between feeling inspirational about the word OWN or DISCOVERY.
The LaBranche Family
Rachel LaBranche - 1/26/2008 9:00:00 PM EST
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