OWN Lays Off 30 in Restructuring

OWN announced Monday it has eliminated 30 positions in Los Angeles and New York as part of a restructuring of its network operations.

Responsibilities of the eliminated positions will be redistributed between the network and its backers Discovery Communications and Harpo Studios. Neal Kirsch, CFO of Discovery's U.S. networks will assume the role of COO/CFO of OWN, reporting to OWN co-presidents Erik Logan and Sheri Salata. He steps in for COO John MacDonald, who is departing, and the net's CFO, who left last fall.

Tina Perry, OWN's VP of business and legal affairs will now oversee that department along with Lee Bartlett, Discovery's executive VP of global productions management, business and legal affairs. Michelle Holt, OWN's VP of production will now oversee production management, replacing senior VP of production Julie Stern, who is departing as part of the layoffs. Ian Parmiter, senior VP of marketing for Discovery ad sales will handle integrated marketing for OWN.

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

The layoffs follow OWN's decision last Friday to cancel its five-month-old talk show hosted by Rosie O'Donnell in the wake of low ratings. In January, Lisa Erspamer, OWN's executive VP of production and development and a longtime Oprah Winfrey Show producer also exited the struggling cable network.