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Oprah calls her cable venture a tough climb

NEW YORK — Oprah Winfrey says creating her new cable network has turned out to be a steep climb.

"I'm climbing Kilimanjaro," she told advertisers Thursday at a presentation for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. She quickly explained that her Kilimanjaro is at the offices of OWN.

"You know that song, 'The Time of My Life'? I've had the climb of my life," she cracked.

The network has struggled to build an audience since its launch in January 2011. It recently announced severe staff layoffs and a management shakeup with Discovery Communications, the company that's bankrolled it with $300 million-plus.

But Winfrey struck a hopeful note in her brief remarks, even as she allowed she's still nowhere near the channel's summit of success.

"With our restructuring and right-sizing and getting into the sauce of what needs to happen every day, I feel like I can at least now see the summit," she said.

OWN was unveiling four new prime-time series, including "Elura and Michele Take Staten Island," a reality series with two outspoken former prosecutors who tell people how to straighten out their problems; "Iyanla Fix My Life," starring the author and inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant; "Married to the Army: Alaska," which focuses on Alaska-based wives and families of military troops who are off serving in Afghanistan; and "Six Little McGhees," about high school sweethearts Mia and Rozonno McGhee, parents of the first sextuplets born in Columbus, Ohio.

In addition, OWN will introduce a new game show, "Are You Normal, America?" It measures its contestants' opinions and habits against those of the nation overall.

Winfrey's appearance at the Discovery "upfront" presentation came the week she was interviewed on "CBS This Morning" about her challenges at OWN.

"The idea of creating a network was something that I wanted to do," she told the program's co-host — and her best friend — Gayle King on Monday. She added, "Had I known that it was this difficult, I might have done something else."

"If I knew then what I know now, I might have made different choices," she declared. "If I were writing a book about it, I could call the book '101 Mistakes.'"

Among those mistakes: going on the air before the network was ready.

But Winfrey insisted, "I feel better about our network now, today, than I ever have."

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