Discovery Health ‘OWN’ed by Oprah

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Discovery Communications and Oprah Winfrey will create OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network to replace Discovery Health Channel, the principals announced today. The network will debut in 2009 to the roughly 70 million homes that currently get Discovery Health and will have the backing of Discovery and Winfrey’s Harpo Productions will split ownership of the venture 50/50, but Winfrey will retain full editorial control. OWN will feature empowering programs designed to help viewers “live their best lives.”

The programming shakeup comes as privately held Discovery Communications prepares for a public offering of its stock. Another change: Discovery’s Animal Planet is “not looking to be a natural history channel,” said GM Marjorie Kaplan. “We’re looking to be an entertainment destination.” The channel will emphasize predation (animal deaths) as well as pets and immersive storytelling, the New York Times reported yesterday. Discovery Home, another of the 100-plus channels that Discovery operates around the world, will be relaunched as PlanetGreen,