Nikki Finke, who covers the entertainment industry at DeadlineHollywood.com, wrote today that Oprah Winfrey will not renew her deal for "The Oprah Winfrey Show" with CBS Television Distribution after her current contract expires in 2011.
Furthermore, Finke says that the show will then become a signature program on Winfrey’s OWN cable channel that she is starting with partner Discovery Communications. OWN stands for the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Finke wrote that her sources were unidentified "people around Oprah."
CBS says this scoop is news to them. The company has long-said that they are waiting to hear Oprah’s decision.
Today, in response to Finke’s piece, a CBS Television Distribution spokesman said in a statement, " "Nothing has changed. The decision is Oprah’s to make. As we have stated repeatedly, we love Oprah and if she wants to continue her show then we want to continue to be in business with her."
CBS owned-and-operated WBBM-TV in Chicago, the city where Winfrey’s show is currently based, reported that Winfrey’s Harpo Productions issued a statement denying that a decision has been made about whether or not Winfrey will continue her talk show via syndication: "She has not made a decision yet. As she has previously stated, she’ll be making an announcement before the end of the year.” The statement came from Harpo spokesman Don Halcombe in an e-mail, according to the WBBM report.
ABC-owned WLS-TV carries "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in Chicago.
According to Finke’s report, "The industry has been betting that the daytime diva would extend ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ for at least another year or two because of the huge cash license fees which stations have long paid her. But people around Oprah are telling me that won’t happen. They say that Discovery Communications chief David Zaslav has demanded that Oprah "move it or lose it" — move her talk show to OWN, or risk losing the Oprah Winfrey Network altogether." OWN is based in Los Angeles.
A Discovery spokesperson declined comment about Finke’s report, saying that any questions about Oprah’s syndicated show would be better asked of Harpo or CBS.