Discovery Communications (NSDQ: DISCA) will increase the funding for the Oprah Winfrey Network to $198 million from its previous promise of $100 million, the company said in an 8-K filing. The funding will be in the form of a revolving loan, but Discovery isn’t sure if it will provide that debt directly on its own, or seek a third party’s assistance.
In return for the added financing, Winfrey has agreed to increase her on-air presence on OWN, including hosting or starring in a show.
The new cable channel, a joint venture between the daytime host and Discovery, is set to launch on or before Jan. 1, 2011. In addition to the expanding financial commitment on the part of Discovery and the promise of more personal appearances on OWN, the joint venture was granted the right to pursue the distribution of the channel in the United Kingdom and Canada.
Over the past year, OWN has had a number of changes in personnel as its worked to meet its launch deadlines and build some anticipation for its debut. Last spring, Robert Tercek exited as OWN’s digital head, while his counterpart on the TV side, Robin Schwartz, left soon after CEO Christina Norman came on board.