OWN cuts 30 jobs as network is restructured


Talk show host Oprah Winfrey poses at the OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network launch. (FRED PROUSER/REUTERS)

Additionally, Neal Kirsch, a longtime Discovery executive and CFO of Discovery’s U.S. networks, has been named new chief operating officer and chief financial officer of OWN. He will report directly to Sheri Salata and Erik Logan; they are members of Oprah’s Harpo leadership team who she named to be presidents jointly in another reconfiguring just eight months ago — at the same time she made herself CEO and chief creative officer of OWN.

“It is difficult to make tough business decisions that affect people’s lives,” Oprah said in Monday’s announcement, “but the economics of a start-up cable network just don’t work with the cost structure that was in place. As CEO, I have a responsibility to chart the course for long-term success for the network. To wholly achieve that long-term success, this was a necessary next step.”

The news comes on the heels of OWN’s announcement that it was dumping Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show just five months after its launch, owing to lousy ratings. The final episode will be taped Tuesday.

Long before Friday’s announcement of the Rosie show’s demise, the program had been slashed and reconfigured, from a live talk show shot in front of a studio audience, to an audience-free, Larry King-esque interview show. Which, not surprisingly, did not save the show.

The dismal performance of Rosie’s show is counted among the reasons that longtime Winfrey/Harpo fave Lisa Erspamer was let go in January as OWN’s executive vice president of production and development.

Rosie’s final telecast will air Friday, March 30.

Among the changes at OWN announced Monday: Tina Perry, the network’s business and legal affairs VP, will replace the recently-departed senior VP business and legal affairs Alan Saxe. Perry will oversee the department, partnered with Lee Bartlett, who is exec VP, global production management, business and legal affairs at Discovery.

And Ian Parmiter, senior VP of marketing for Discovery Ad Sales, will now oversee integrated marketing for OWN. And, Michelle Holt, VP production, will oversee production management at OWN, replacing the network’s production senior VP Julie Stern.

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