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Oprah Winfrey: Laying Off 20 Percent of OWN's Employees Is a Necessary Step

March 20, 2012, 6:46 am GMT

The cable channel cuts 30 staffers and replaces executives since it is making a budget adjustment and restructuring its operations in Los Angeles and New York.

Oprah Winfrey

In its struggle to gain viewers, Oprah Winfrey's network OWN has laid off 30 employees or 20% of its workforce on Monday, March 19. The move was taken as part of a restructuring and budget adjustment, so the network announced.

"It is difficult to make tough business decisions that affect people's lives," OWN's CEO and chief creative officer Winfrey explained. "But the economics of a start-up cable network just don't work with the cost structure that was in place."

"As CEO, I have a responsibility to chart the course for long-term success for the network. To wholly achieve that long-term success, this was a necessary next step," she went on stressing.

Echoing Winfrey's statement, OWN's president Erik Logan said, "We have been on the air for 15 months, and since September we have gained momentum in ratings and viewership. Restructuring our business will allow us to build a solid foundation for long-term growth."

As a result of the major restructuring, executives from Discovery Communications will be brought in to oversee key operations. Among the high-profile layoffs, which took place both in New York and Los Angeles offices, is SVP Production Julie Stern.

Additionally, COO John MacDonald has declined to renew his contract. He will only stay through May to help with the transition. Discovery's CFO Neal Kirsch will fill in MacDonald's shoes in addition to serving as chief financial officer at OWN.

Just days before announcing the layoffs, OWN canceled Rosie O'Donnell's talks show "The Rosie Show". The program debuted in October 2011 with 497,000 viewers, but the number has since declined with the show averaging 204,000 viewers as of early March.

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