Oprah Winfrey’s struggling television network, OWN, said Monday it is laying off one-fifth of its workers and restructuring its operations in New York and Los Angeles.
The decision to let 30 employees go is a “tough” one, but the economics of a start-up cable network didn’t fit with OWN’s cost structure, Winfrey said in a statement.
“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,” Winfrey said.
The responsibilities of the laid-off workers will be distributed among people with the network and its venture partners, Discovery Communications and Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, according to OWN.
The cable channel, which launched Jan. 1, 2011, endured a freshman year of executive turnover and missteps that proved OWN lacked a solid foundation on which to build. This was despite a Discovery Communications investment of a reported $250 million and counting.
Discovery executives will take a more active role in the channel, according to the announcement.
Neal Kirsch, chief financial officer of Discovery’s U.S. networks, will move to OWN as the chief financial officer and chief operating officer, reporting to OWN presidents Erik Logan and Sheri Salata.
John MacDonald had decided to exit as OWN’s COO, Logan said
Another Discovery executive, Lee Bartlett, will have joint oversight of business and legal affairs with an OWN vice president, Tina Perry.
OWN started as an ambitious new platform for Winfrey after she stepped away from her long-running, top-rated daytime talk show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” But viewership for OWN shows have been largely unimpressive, with one example being a short-lived Rosie O’Donnell talk show that was cancelled last week.