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Oprah Winfrey Network

Oprah Winfrey Network - Slapping Oprah Winfrey's name on something usually makes that thing a success. As it prepares to flip the switch on the Oprah Winfrey Network cable channel on Jan. 1, Discovery Communications (DISCA) is betting that streak will hold. "This channel will have her name on it," says Christina Norman, the former MTV president who is now OWN's chief executive officer. She says the channel could be profitable within three years. "It's something that [Oprah] doesn't want to be anything but great."

Still, the network, which Oprah's holding company Harpo will own jointly with Discovery, is not a sure bet. Some cable and satellite operators are resisting Discovery's demands for fees triple what they are paying for Discovery Health, the channel being converted to OWN. Advertisers coaxed aboard with a personal call from Oprah will want to see healthy ratings. "No one has ever created a whole channel with original programming [like this] from scratch," says Ron Schneier, chief operating officer of online advertising service MyVideoRights and a former executive at A&E Channel. "It has its share of risks."

Oprah Winfrey Network

Viewers won't see Oprah 24/7. The 56-year-old host to 7.2 million TV viewers can't have a daily talk show on the cable channel until September, after her syndicated program ends its 25-year run. For now, she's committed to appear on OWN only 70 hours a year, and will be seen on specials and a reality show chronicling her program's final season.

Oprah Winfrey Network

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