- - Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Oprah’s promotional tweet gets Nielsen’s attention

It was Oprah Winfrey’s turn to learn a lesson Sunday night.

Miss Winfrey, with her show “Oprah’s Next Chapter” about to air on her OWN network and facing competition from the Grammys, tweeted “Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if u have a Nielsen box.”

Aside from making her sound a bit desperate, the tweet violated the rules of the powerful Nielsen Media Research organization that dominates the TV ratings business. According to the Hollywood Reporter, she broke the rules by mentioning she specifically wanted to reach viewers with the Nielsen boxes used to measure viewership in their homes.

Of the more than 100 million homes with televisions in the U.S., some 25,000 get such boxes. Results are then used to project what everyone is watching. Those numbers are used to set advertising rates and can make or break a show, a personality or a career - so they are taken very seriously.

When notified of her violation, Miss Winfrey immediately pulled back and her spokesperson issued the following statement: “I removed the tweet at the request of Nielsen. I intended no harm and apologize for the reference. - Oprah Winfrey.”

The ratings service put out a statement as well: “In accordance with our policies and procedures, Nielsen is reviewing this incident with our clients and we may withhold, break out and/or make a note in the ratings. We take any violation of our policy seriously and will work with clients to resolve the situation.”

A Nielsen spokesperson told the New York Times that “an asterisk will be attached to OWN’s ratings at the time of day Miss Winfrey’s message was sent, noting a ‘possible biasing effect.’ “

China puts limits on imported television shows

China’s television broadcasters will be limited in the number of imported series they can show, the government has announced, as China continues to try to rein in foreign influence.

Under the new rules, no foreign TV series may be shown during the prime-time hours of 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and overseas-produced shows “could take up no more than 25 percent of total programming time each day,” the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said late Monday.

It also said domestic channels would not be allowed to show too much programming from any one country or region, but it did not elaborate.

According to the Associated Press, the move comes in a politically sensitive year for China, with a planned change of leadership, and after President Hu Jintao said the Communist Party needed to get a firmer grip on Chinese culture.

In early January, Mr. Hu told Communist Party members that hostile forces abroad were trying to westernize and divide the country with their cultural influence and that officials must remain vigilant against such efforts.

Mr. Hu did not say who the hostile forces were, but Chinese leaders have tried to bolster their legitimacy with a more demanding public by depicting China as being engaged in an ideological and cultural war with the West.

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