My husband's sister and brother-in-law are good friends with one of Oprah's man-bitches ... err, producers. The guy and his partner own a beautiful weekend home in rural CT that would blow your socks off (Oprah takes damn good care of her "family"). From what I've been told, The O staff will continue to work for/with her.
It's true that her ratings are slipping. Various reasons are being given, but the one that seems to have a more universal attraction revolves around Oprah's support of Obama. I don't buy that excuse. Oprah wants to appear as non-partisan as possible, which explains why she gave Sarah Palin a full hour on her show.
In my opinion, and based on what I've been told, TV ratings are down across the board (just look at all of the long-running soap opera's that have been 86'd this year), and Oprah's ratings woes started before Obama's campaigning, so her loss of share has very little if anything to do with politics.
Oprah's not going anywhere. She'll start the show on her own cable network, which has been a plan of hers for sometime now. She'll have more control over her brand, and be able to kill two birds with one stone by folding her show into her network.
The poor girl deserves a break. She's built an empire but hardly has time to enjoy it. I think this next move is intended to give her a little more freedom to enjoy the fruits of her labor.