Sally Jessy, Oprah set to bow out

Oprah Winfrey and Sally Jessy Raphael, two icons of daytime talk TV, have decided to stop talking � Winfrey in four years and Raphael this May 20, it was confirmed Monday.

"She's agreed to do two more seasons," said Arthur Sando, a spokesman for King World Productions, which distributes "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Although Winfrey's numbers have fallen in recent years, her series is clearly on top in the daytime talk race.

Raphael's series, however, has fallen victim to the general downturn in ratings for daytime programming. Her show has lost more than half of its audience in the last three years, going from third overall to ninth in the most recent ratings period.

"(Raphael's) had a very long and successful run," said Bill Carroll, an analyst with Katz Media, a firm that advises stations on program choices.

Morever, the show's syndicator, Studios USA, was having trouble renewing the show in New York, a key market for the success of any show.

As for Oprah, renewing two years ahead of time is a bit unusual for her. In the past, she has often suggested � usually through interviews � that she might throw in the towel, only to sign a new contract.

This time, with much less fanfare, Winfrey has signed on for another hitch but with what seems to be a clear end-game in mind.

Winfrey had no comment on the new deal, according to spokeswoman Audrey Pass.

King World has in turn signed up the ABC-owned stations for the new deal.

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