Will she leave broadcast TV? Ever since Oprah Winfrey announced a deal with Discovery Communications to create a 24/7 cable channel built around her there has been speculation that Winfrey would not renew her syndication contract with CBS Television Dsitribution and take the show to the new OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav has certainly encouraged such speculation, telling Wall Street gatherings that he believed the move would happen eventually.
But plans for OWN have not been moving along as hoped, so speculation about a move for the franchise show had died down while Discovery and Winfrey’s Harpo Productions worked to get OWN ready to launch. What happened this week to re-ignite the rumors was that OWN finally got a key Winfrey staffer named to its executive staff. Lisa Erspamer, who had been co-executive producer of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” since 2006, will be leaving Chicago for LA to be Chief Creative Officer of OWN.
So, rumors are flying that “The Oprah Winfrey Show” will end broadcast syndication as soon as 2011. But, at this point, that’s still speculation.
In his quarterly conference call with analysts, CBS Corporation CEO Les Moonves was asked about the status of the company’s deal with Winfrey. He said CBS is in constant communications with Winfrey and that he hoped to renew the contract. Should the current contract, running through most of 2011, not be renewed, Moonves said the financial impact would be felt by CBS in 2012.