Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The Oprah Winfrey Network is set to make its debut in the second half of next year in 70 million homes on what is now the Discovery Health Network.

For Winfrey, one of the world's most powerful media moguls, whose Chicago-based empire already extends well beyond "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to include O magazine, the "Oprah & Friends" channel on XM Satellite Radio and a movie and television production company, this is more than a mere dream come true.

It is an opportunity to establish a legacy.

"The truth of the matter is one day the show has to end," Winfrey, who will turn 54 this month, said in a call with reporters. "That may be 2011 [when its current syndication deal expires] and that may be after 2011. ... This is an evolution of what I've been able to do every day. I will now have the opportunity to do that 24 hours a day on a platform that goes on forever.

"This network isn't just about me," she said. "It's using the voice and the brand and the vision, but it really is about creating possibilities for any number of people ... to extend the vision in a way that obviously I cannot 24 hours a day."

The new channel is being created through a cashless transaction. Winfrey's Harpo Productions will be responsible for OWN's programming, branding and creative vision. Discovery Communications' contribution will be its nine-year-old Discovery Health Channel, as well as distribution, origination and other operational requirements.