Oprah Winfrey, already running her own TV show, production company, magazine and Web site, will join Discovery Communications in creating her own TV network.
Called OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, the venture will open for business in 2009, inheriting the distribution platform controlled by the Discovery Health Channel, which reaches 67.7 million cable- and satellite homes, according to Nielsen. Winfrey will be the chairman of OWN.
In a statement, Winfrey said the network “is the evolution of the work I’ve been doing on television all these years and a natural extension of my show.”
The mandate of the network, said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications, is “to entertain, inform and inspire people to live their best lives.”
Discovery said Winfrey will have “full editorial control” over the joint venture, with responsibility for “programming, branding and creative vision.”
Discovery will handle distribution and origination of the network.
Discovery and Winfrey will each own 50% of the network. No cash changed hands in the deal, and OWN will be an independent company.
Winfrey and Discovery will begin the search for a CEO to run the network.
Discovery Health Channel kicked off in 1999.