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Discovery Takes Majority Control Of Oprah Winfrey's Network

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Discovery Communications Inc on Monday announced that it has increased ownership stake in its joint venture with TV mogul Oprah Winfrey.

The company paid $70 million to acquire an additional 24.5% stake in OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network from Winfrey's Harpo, Inc., taking its stake to more than 70 percent.

Harpo will retain a significant minority interest in OWN.

Under the deal, Winfrey, the former talk show queen, will continue in her role as CEO, with her exclusivity commitment to the network extended through 2025.

Discovery said the transaction represents Winfrey's first payment from Harpo's ownership stake in OWN in the 10 years since forming the joint venture with Discovery.

The woman-focused OWN was formed in 2008, while it was launched as a joint venture between Discovery and Harpo in 2011. OWN is currently the #1 network for African-American women with the top four original scripted series on ad-supported cable. It includes hit series such as "Queen Sugar" and "Greenleaf".

David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery, said, "In an increasingly crowded landscape, OWN has emerged as the leading destination for African-American women and one of the strongest superfan brands across all screens and services. This transaction allows Discovery and Oprah to unlock more value from our partnership..."

Winfrey added, "Creating OWN and seeing it flourish, supported by Discovery and a rapidly growing group of the finest storytellers in film and television, is one of my proudest achievements..... Together, we'll continue to inspire our viewers with real-life stories that are emotional and entertaining, connecting them to each other and to their greatest potential."

Discovery, which recently acquired Scripps Networks Interactive, said it will now be home to five of the top pay-TV networks for women and represent 20% share of women watching primetime pay-TV in the U.S.

by RTT Staff Writer

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