One of the biggest questions in the TV biz has been when, and even if, Oprah Winfrey would give up her daytime syndicated talk show to focus on OWN, her long delayed Oprah Winfrey Network in 70 million homes that was supposed to launch in place of the Discovery Health Channel as a joint venture between Winfrey and Discovery Communications. The industry has been betting that the daytime diva would extend The Oprah Winfrey Show for at least another year or two because of the huge cash license fees which stations have long paid her. But people around Oprah are telling me that won’t happen. They say that Discovery Communications chief David Zaslav has demanded that Oprah “move it or lose it” — move her talk show to OWN, or risk losing the Oprah Winfrey Network altogether. I’ve learned that in coming days Winfrey and Discovery will issue a press release announcing OWN’s on-air launch for the start of 2011. And, in several weeks, Oprah will tell the public that she’s ending her syndicated Chicago-based daytime talk show when her current deal runs out and moving it to OWN headquarters in Los Angeles probably as soon as mid-2011.
Hardest hit by the news will be CBS Television Distribution which syndicates the show, Also hit will be ABC’s owned-and-operated stations which make up Oprah’s core station group, and also Sony TV execs who’d been hoping Oprah would deliver any extension of her daytime talker into their hands based on the success they’ve had this season syndicating Dr Oz, Harpo’s latest daytime talk show star). “Les Moonves, Bob Iger, and Sony will flip out,” one of my insiders says about Oprah’s news. “The only winner is David Zaslav.”
Read More:By NIKKI FINKE, Deadline Hollywood