February 17, 2012 by staff
Oprah Apologizes, Oprah Winfrey apologized on Monday for publishing a message to Twitter that encouraged people counted in Nielsen ratings to watch her cable channel, potentially influencing the ratings.
“Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if u have a Neilsen box,” Ms. Winfrey wrote on Twitter just after 9 p.m. on Sunday, just as a new episode of her interview show “Oprah’s Next Chapter” began.
What appeared to most Twitter users as a simple – if desperate-sounding – call to watch a struggling channel was seen at Nielsen as a potentially serious violation of its policy. Nielsen measures the television viewership of a sample of roughly 25,000 households across the United States, and it works hard to ensure that the sample is not coerced to watch specific shows or channels.
After officials at OWN and Nielsen corresponded on Monday morning, Ms. Winfrey’s Twitter message was deleted. “I removed the tweet at the request of Nielsen,” she said in a statement to The New York Times. “I intended no harm and apologize for the reference.”
In Nielsen’s ratings system, an asterisk will be attached to OWN’s ratings at the time of day Ms. Winfrey’s message was sent, noting a “possible biasing effect,” a Nielsen spokesman said.
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