Oprah Eyeing Channel Change

The queen of daytime television is reportedly abdicating her syndication throne in favor of her own cable fiefdom, according to Nikki Finke. Winfrey, whose syndicated talk show is viewed by an estimated 7 million people, is expected to announce the launch date of the long-delayed Oprah Winfrey Network later this week. Soon afterward, Finke reports Winfrey will make public her intention to end her show, moving the Chicago-based program to Los Angeles as soon as 2011. CBS Television Distribution, which syndicates Oprah and some of her spinoffs, will be hit especially hard by the Discovery Channel-partnered OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), which will launch in place of Discovery Health in 70 million homes. Though the show is still the highest-rated daytime talk show, its high syndication fees and falling viewer numbers mean that some stations may welcome Oprah's move to cable; even so, Winfrey, the richest African-American woman on the planet, is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.3 billion and controls an extensive media empire with stakes in book and magazine publishing.