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Discovery Provides Second Exec to Oprah's OWN

Discovery Communications has drafted a second senior executive to work on Oprah Winfrey's yet-to-launch cable channel OWN. The two partners confirmed Monday (Oct. 12) Kathleen Kayse is the channels new executive-VP of ad sales.

Kayse was previously head of digital media sales at Discovery. She will report to both Joe Abruzzese, president ad sales at Discovery Communications and Christina Norman, who is president of the new channel which is backed by Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications. The new ad chief will have a dual role overseeing ad sales at both the network and the Website. Prior to joining Discovery, Kayse led ad sales for Time Warners AOL. She is also a former publisher of People magazine.

Kayse will have her work cut-out presenting a new cable channel to media buyers who already have an abundance of outlets to place their dollars and are now formulating spending plans for 2010. And while Oprah's name will undoubtedly be a sell, it remains to be seen how much of a presence the talk show queen will have on the channel which urges viewers to live their best lives. The channel was initially set to launch in 2009 with 70 million households; that date has been pushed back to 2010 with no firm launch date announced. The channel will replace Discovery Health.

One indication that OWN might be in need of some assistance came last week when Discovery named Debbie Myers as an interim general manager at OWN. Myers will also continue her role as general manager of Science Channel and executive-VP of programming at Discoverys emerging networks.

As part of the joint venture agreement, Winfrey has full programming, branding and creative control of the service, while Discovery controls distribution, origination and other operational requirements, according to an initial press release when the deal was announced in January 2008. Both organizations said they would contribute to ad sales.