Oprah Forced to Defend OWN's Celebrity Focus Before Canadian Tribunal


Licensee Corus Entertainment must explain why the talk show queen's network has strayed so far from its educational programming mandate -- or else face shutdown.

TORONTO – Oprah Winfrey is being asked by Canada's TV czar to explain why her network should not be kicked out of the country.

Corus Entertainment, the Canadian licensee for the TV talk show queen's network, is to appear on Winfrey's behalf during a CRTC show/cause hearing on Dec. 11 to explain why OWN Canada has strayed from an original Canadian broadcast license focused on education.

The TV regulator insists Winfrey's Canadian network binges too heavily on TV fare about celebrity style and relationships.

The dispute follows Corus last year rebranding and relaunching its Viva cable channel as OWN Canada, the local version of Winfrey’s U.S.-based cable network, and apparently shifting away from the Canadian cable channel’s original educational programming mandate that dates to the 1990s.

The CRTC contends two rebrands of the cable channel from the original Canadian Learning Television license have left OWN Canada airing too much content with Winfrey and her celebrity friends discussing food and fashion.

The Canadian regulator wants more programming focused on “basic adult education, job development skills or professional development."

Corus executives were not available for comment at press time.

On Dec. 11, Corus will tell the CRTC why its programming strategy for OWN Canada complies with its licensing mandate.

And they’ll need to make the case why the CRTC should not impose a mandatory order to meet OWN Canada's programming obligations or face losing the broadcast license.