Oprah Winfrey plans to end her syndicated television show in September 2011 as she turns her attention to a new cable-television channel she plans to launch with Discovery Communications Inc.
Ms. Winfrey told her staff of her decision on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the matter. She plans to make an official announcement Friday morning on her talk show, according to a spokeswoman for Ms. Winfrey's Chicago-based Harpo Inc.
The move is a big blow to the syndicated television market in which Ms. Winfrey has long been a juggernaut. "The Oprah Winfrey Show," launched in syndication in 1986, averaged 6.6 million viewers in the week ended Nov. 8, according to Nielsen Co.
Local TV stations, which use Ms. Winfrey to anchor daytime hours, could smart from her move. Even as advertisers have cut budgets in the past year, Ms. Winfrey's show has been among the few whose rates have held steady, according to one ad buyer.
"In our market, she does extremely well and always has," said Barry Smith, director of programming and creative services for KFMB-TV, a CBS affiliate in San Diego, Calif., that is owned by Midwest Television Inc. "It's going to be a task" to replace her, Mr. Smith added.
Ms. Winfrey's decision also represents a hit to CBS Corp., which distributes her show in syndication. "We look forward to working with her for the next several years, and hopefully afterwards as well," CBS said.
The loss of Ms. Winfrey's show will be missed in particular by the book publishing industry. "It's a blow," said Lorraine Shanley, a partner in the consulting firm Market Partners International Inc., who earlier this week watched former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin promote her book on Ms. Winfrey's show.
"Oprah Winfrey has supported many authors, and her book club has had a huge impact on America's reading habits," added Ms. Shanley. "She made Faulkner a best seller again. She also promoted an eclectic group of authors and created publishing successes for many commercial writers."
"If it is the end of her daily talk show, we probably won't see something else to match its overall potential impact on book sales in the broadcast arena any time soon," said Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Bertelsmann AG's Random House publishing arm. "She has an integrity and connectivity to her viewership that is unmatched by any other television broadcast personality. Happily she enjoys reading books and wants to persuade her viewership to enjoy them as much as she does. It's not a characteristic shared by any other TV personalities with her persuasiveness."
Ms. Winfrey is likely to turn her attention to her new television network, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, which she announced with Discovery Communications in January 2008.
The new channel is structured as a 50-50 joint venture between Ms. Winfrey and the cable programmer, which will replace its little-watched Discovery Health channel with the new offering.
"I will be involved in every single element of programming," Ms. Winfrey said at the time.
Since then, the network's launch has been delayed. It is now expected to launch in January of 2011, according to a person familiar with the matter. Ms. Winfrey and the network also expect to announce some plans for the new network in coming weeks, the person said.
Earlier this month, OWN named Lisa Erspamer, a veteran producer at Harpo, as its chief creative officer. Ms. Erspamer, a co-executive producer of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" since 2006, will be based at OWN's Los Angeles headquarters, according to a press release.
In January, OWN hired former MTV president Christina Norman as chief executive. She took over from Tom Freston, a former Viacom CEO and MTV veteran who has served as a consultant for the network, according to people familiar with the situation.