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Oprah: Running OWN Network Has Been A Big Challenge

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Oprah On CBS This Morning

Oprah Winfrey talks about the challenges of running her OWN television network on CBS This Morning. (Credit: CBS)

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NEW YORK (CBS) — Long gone from her renowned talk show in Chicago now, Oprah Winfrey talked Monday about the challenge of building her own TV network in an exclusive interview on CBS This Morning.

As CBS 2’s Susan Carlson reports, the expectations were enormous, and Winfrey’s OWN network has been struggling with surprisingly low ratings.

Speaking with Charlie Rose and with her dear friend Gayle King, Winfrey conceded that she has made a lot of mistakes – including launching OWN before it was ready. She says she expects it will take three to five years before the network is successful, and she’s not giving up.

“Had I known that it was this difficult, I might have done something else,” she said.

“Really?” Rose replied. “If you knew that it was going to be this difficult, you might have not done it?” Rose asked.

“Oh, absolutely,” Winfrey replied.

Oprah is the woman touted as being able to turn things golden, but she admits she hasn’t had the Midas touch when it’s come to building her own TV network. Meanwhile, the press, which has loved her for decades, has been brutal.

“Last week, I saw one headline that really kind of knocked me off center,” she said. “It was the USA Today headline that said ‘Oprah not quite standing on her OWN.’”

Tough critics and low ratings have been difficult, but Oprah says the hardest part so far has been having to lay off 30 more people last month in Los Angeles and New York.

“Because you’ve failed at something – which we haven’t failed – but because you’ve failed doesn’t make you a failure. And when you know that in the core of yourself, you can keep trying or you can use whatever’s happening in that moment to say, ‘Maybe I need to move in a new direction,’” she said.

The restructuring came on the heels of Winfrey’s decision to cancel the “The Rosie Show” with Rosie O’Donnell, at her old Harpo Studios on Chicago’s Near West Side. That move also led to layoffs.

“Didn’t you have a moment when you go, as Charlie just said, ‘I don’t need it. I don’t need another pair of shoes?” King asked.

“Well, I thought that last week. I thought that last week with all the negative press,” Winfrey said. “But you know, it’s just press.”

Despite the setbacks, Oprah says she’s too driven to give up and feels this is her calling.

“Because I am a female who is African-American who has been so blessed in the world, there is never going to be a time to quit,” Winfrey said. “I will die in the midst of doing what I love to do.”

Fueling that drive is the recent success of the OWN special with Whitney Houston’s daughter. A record 3.5 million people tuned in to see Oprah’s exclusive interview with Bobbi Kristina Brown.

Oprah also said she feels better today about her OWN Network than she ever has.

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