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Oprah Takes OWNership of Her Brand

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 13, 2011 12:30 PM

Oprah is finally taking OWNership of her fledgling TV channel.

The Oprah Winfrey Network (aka OWN) announced today that its namesake founder is stepping up to CEO and chief creative officer, effective this fall, in addition to her current role as chairman.

Erik Logan and Sheri Salata, current presidents of Harpo Studios, the television arm of Winfrey's Harpo Productions, will assume co- presidency of OWN, effective immediately, in a clear signal that Harpo will now focus all production on OWN, while Winfrey will now focus her energies on the Discovery-backed cable channel.

"I am ready to dedicate my full creative energy and focus as the full time CEO of OWN," said Winfrey. "By aligning the mission, talent and leadership of Erik, Sheri, the OWN team, the Harpo team, along with expertise of (Discovery Communications CEO) David Zaslav, Peter (Liguori, OWN's interim CEO) and all of Discovery behind us, we can unleash the full potential of the network."

The move comes in an effort to turn around the startup's disappointing ratings and avert a crisis of expectation that has plagued OWN since its much heralded January launch with from MTV exec Christina Norman as CEO.

Norman, who was pushed out the door in May, commented on the shaky beginning to OWN in this video posted by Fast Company — one week before she was fired, when she was also featured in Vanity Fair's top women in cable spread.

Discovery Communications COO Liguori has been running OWN since then, and commented today on relinquishing that role:

The announcement of Oprah, Erik and Sheri completes the plan for developing a strategic creative track and finding the right management team to execute on that plan going forward. I look forward to a robust new season with Lisa Ling, Rosie [O'Donnell] and a number of projects that will continue building OWN's audience, brand strength and growth."

It’s a tough to be on your OWN, Winfrey no doubt realizes — while no doubt hoping that her full-time attention will restore the luster to her powerhouse personal and media brand.

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