Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Discovery CEO talks about Oprah, her show, and OWN

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Now that Oprah Winfrey has set a date for when the sun will set on her syndicated talk show — Sept 2011 — everybody wants to know if she will recreate the show on OWN. OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, is the cable channel set to flicker on in some 80 million homes in January 2011 with Discovery Communications.

At the Reuters Media Summit in New York, Reuters Paul Thomasch put the question directly to David Zaslav, the chief executive of Discovery Communications:


REUTERS:
Do you expected Oprah will dedicate a lot of time to the OWN network?
DISCOVERY: When we announced OWN, Oprah talked about it as being ‘her’ media company. Its a 50-50 venture. We think it’s going to be very significant asset. But Oprah is the chairman, she’s the chief creative officer. Shes spends a lot of time on it with me and the staff, she’s involved in all the creative decisions she has a ton of energy and great creativity. We always expected that she was going to be spending a lot of time in front of the screen and behind the screen.  Its a big win for us and the cable industry that (she) will be available primarily on OWN. OWN will really feel the strength and creativity of her presence.

REUTERS: Have you talked to her about bringing her current show, or something resembling her show, to OWN?
DISCOVERY: We have talked about a lot of creative ways that Oprah can have a presence on OWN (such as Master Class). Oprah has a ton of great ideas. But ultimately, what Oprah does on OWN is Oprah’s decision.

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