Oprah's OWN Lays Off One-Fifth of Work Force

Oprah's OWN Lays Off One-Fifth of Work Force

Plus: network cancels The Rosie Show.

Published March 20, 2012

More bad news fo Oprah Winfrey's OWN. The network announced it has let go 30 employees — one-fifth of it's work force — from their New York and Los Angeles offices today. 

“It is difficult to make tough business decisions that affect people’s lives,” said Winfrey in a statement. “But the economics of a start-up cable network just don’t work with the cost structure that was in place. 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.”

Not even Oprah's pal Rosie O'Donnell was spared a pink slip. The media mogul and chief executive of OWN canceled The Rosie Show, which was meant to revive the struggling network, after six months of "humiliating ratings," according to the Daily Beast.

The news comes after weeks of speculation about O'Donnell moving her show from Chicago's Harpo Studios, former home of The Oprah Winfrey Show, to her native New York. 

According to the Daily Beast, O'Donnell was courted by Winfrey and turned down offers from major networks to join the OWN family, but ultimately couldn't get her viewers to follow her. The comedian once pulled in five million viewers on her daytime talk show, but sunk to an all-time low of 60,000 on OWN. Changes in the show's format and its evening time slot are partly to blame, say insiders.

Staff members revealed that O'Donnell "frequently lost her temper" as her ratings slipped. Her time at OWN was a "disaster" according to another insider.

The news isn't doing much to silence those who predict the network's demise is imminent.

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(Photo: Courtesy Oprah Winfrey Network)

Written by Evelyn Diaz


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