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Shake-up at OWN as Christina Norman steps down and Peter Liguori moves in

Less than six months after its debut, Christina Norman is out as president of OWN, the cable channel co-owned by Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications.

NORMAN Norman, a former president of MTV, had been head of OWN for about two years. The channel premiered with a mix of reality and self-help shows, but its ratings have not caught fire. Discovery Communications Chief Operating Officer Peter Liguori, who used to hold senior roles at News Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting and the FX cable network, will step in and run OWN on an interim basis while the search for a successor is underway.

Discovery has pumped north of $200 million into OWN, and there have been several executive changes inside the operation. Winfrey, who is giving up her daytime talk show to focus exclusively on the channel, is also expected to take on an even greater role at the cable network now that her day job is coming to an end.

“I want to thank Christina for her important accomplishments, incredible passion and many sacrifices in helping to launch the network,” said Winfrey in a statement. “With the final taping of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" only a few weeks away, I will soon be able to devote my full energies to OWN."

Since joining the comapny in 2009, Liguori has focused a lot on OWN. While Liguori took an apartment in the Washington, D.C. area where Discovery is based, he still spends much of his time in Los Angeles where OWN is headquarted.

Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav said of Liguori that he is the company's “creative leader" and "highly qualified to assume the leadership at OWN for the next phase of growth."

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Christina Norman. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times.

For the record: This post was updated to include statements from Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav.



Comments () | Archives (4)

Oprah better do something fast. She needs a lot of help to get me and my friends to watch that network. B O R I N G

I think in some ways this situation could be characterized as "not being able to see the forest for the trees". There are so many cable channels and choices that staking out an identity is extremely difficult for a new comer albeit Oprah Winfrey.
I think the most important thing right now would be to take a break from the day to day and look at the competition. What are the most popular show? Who are the most popular personalities? I would be less concerned about "where do I want to take the network" and let the network take me to where it wants to be. By that I mean if you limit your vision to a particular arena, such as self help or programming for women only, you will lose out on the opportunity to offer program diversity that can give the network an identity not available if you narrow your scope of possibilities.
Another thing to keep in mind and this should be paramount in everyone's understanding of Television is this: People watch TV shows not networks. Unlike radio where you listen to stations where by your audience is more static and not jumping around the spectrum.
I truly hope Oprah can get her network to a successful place, but it's gonna take more than what has been done and a bit of risk taking to achieve it.

Make it a basic cable station and I will tune in. Sorry, won't pay extra.

Regarding the statement in the lede: she was the chief executive, not president.


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