Update: Harpo states that Oprah has yet to decide whether she will end her show after the 2011 season:
In a statement issued this afternoon, however, Harpo responded: "While David Zaslav's comments are true that Oprah's current contract to produce The Oprah Winfrey Show will expire in 2011, she has not made a final decision as to whether she will continue her show in syndication beyond that," says Lisa Halliday, chief spokesperson for Harpo Productions, Inc.
In fact, a clause existed in her current contract that would have let the talk-show queen end the show in 2010, but she recently chose to extend the show's run through the contract's full term.
Original Post: Oprah Winfrey will take her blockbuster talk show out of broadcast syndication and move it to her own cable channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network, by 2011, it was revealed in the Discovery Channel's earnings call Friday morning.
Broadcasting & Cable's Paige Albiniak reports that Discovery CEO David Zaslav announced the impending switch Friday morning, which is news inasmuch as Winfrey had previously announced she would be ending the show when its syndication deal ran out:
"The current expectation is that after fall 2011 her show will go off of ... syndication, and she will come to OWN," the cable network that Winfrey's production company, Harpo, is creating in conjunction with Discovery.
"We are talking right now about what that presence would be and what programming she would be involved in directly, but this is her chapter two, and building the OWN brand online and on-air is something and she and I are working on together. It is a core mission for her," Zaslav said.
Winfrey's distribution deal, which she re-signed with King World's late Roger King in August 2004, expires in fall 2011. That marks the end of Oprah's 25th season.
At that year's gathering of the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) in Las Vegas, Winfrey told a gathering "I really do think that's going to be it."
If Winfrey were any other TV talent, the news that she would be departing daytime when her contract expired would be a non-issue, but Winfrey has previously said she was ending the show.
In January, Oprah and the Discovery Channel announced that they were teaming up to launch the Oprah Winfrey Network in 2009 OWN will replace Discovery Health, which will place it in 70 million homes nationwide.