In light of the sudden departure of OWN’s EVP of production and development Lisa Erspamer, the struggling cable network, a co-venture between Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo and Discovery Communications, has enlisted the help of 16-year Discovery Communications veteran Rita Mullin. On an interim basis, Mullin, currently SVP of Content Strategy for Discovery Fit & Health, will work with OWN’s team on programming and development while continuing in her role at Discovery Fit & Health. OWN’s programming is being overseen by network president Sheri Salata and Winfrey. Mullin brings to OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network what the network’s brass had been lacking: extensive series and cable network experience. Before joining Discovery Fit & Health, Mullin was head of TLC’s East Coast development team and responsible for developing several of the network’s top-rated series, including Jon & Kate Plus 8, 19 Kids And Counting, The Little Couple, Four Weddings and Sister Wives. This marks a homecoming for Mullin who, before her stint at TLC, served as VP of development for the Discovery Health Channel, which was replaced by OWN. Her current full-time employer, Discovery Fit & Health, was the result of the merger of Discovery Health and FitTV following the launch of OWN. OWN is facing an uphill ratings battle as it has not been able to outperform its predecessor, Discovery Health, despite its marquee brand and a $300 million investment from Discovery Communications.
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