Oprah Winfrey, the reigning monarch of daytime chat and occasional champion of presidents and authors, is to announce on her television show today that after nearly a quarter of a century of syndication success she is preparing to quit her show for good the year after next.
It is a measure of Ms Winfrey's importance on the cultural landscape of America, that a 22-month lead time to her shuttering the show seems an appropriate amount of warning to her fans and advertisers. "The sun will set on the Oprah show as its 25th season draws to a close on September 9, 2011," the New York affiliate of the ABC Network said on its bulletins last night.
Even after so long on the air, Ms Winfrey, 55, still commands the heights of daytime chat. Through her syndication deals, her programme, The Oprah Winfrey Show, reaches some 7 million homes daily in the US. It is carried mostly on ABC stations, but is distributed by CBS Television Distribution. "We have the greatest respect for Oprah and wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavours," CBS said.
Vanish Ms Winfrey will not. She will tell viewers that her purpose in leaving is to focus on the new channel she has long been preparing to launch. To be called OWN – the Oprah Winfrey Network – it is in development in partnership with Discovery Communications and will focus on women's issues.