Tuesday, July 14, 2009

NBC Weasels Manipulate The Ratings

I think we all know that Brian Williams and his producers are consumed with one goal above all others--achieving high ratings. To Brian and his team, having the highest ratings is far more important than delivering the most newsworthy stories of the day. Each evening, the Nightly News producers select stories based on their ability to attract viewers, rather than on their newsworthiness. That would explain why Nightly News recently transformed itself into Access Hollywood to cover Michael Jackson's death. It would also explain recent Nightly News non-stories about high heels, the Colorado elk population, a ladybug infestation (also in Colorado), Susan Boyle, and my personal favorite--high school students who like to hug each other (that breaking news story aired on May 28). But I had no clue about the depths to which Brian and his producers would descend just for the purpose of gaining a few ratings points. I had no idea about their total lack of scruples and how easily they would just toss morality out the window. The following is an excerpt from a June 23 story on the tvnewser.com website. It describes the ratings for the previous week's evening news broadcasts:

"NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams won the week with a 3-day (Mon-Wed) average, but also lost more than half a million viewers from the week prior.

NBC averaged 7.75m Total Viewers Mon-Wed but on Thursday and Friday gave their program a different Nielsen code -- 'Nitely News.' (The correct spelling is 'Nightly News'). This is despite the fact that the network had regular coverage on those days. We're trying to determine if the U.S. Open Golf Championship had something to do with the coding change. Had Thursday and Friday been included, the average would have been lower. On Friday 'Nightly' averaged 6.29m Total Viewers.

An NBC insider tells us, even though the broadcast had full national coverage, the U.S. Open tends to affect viewership so the Thursday and Friday shows were not in the average. NBC says this is normal procedure."

Let's be clear about what happened here. The producers of Nightly News intentionally misspelled the name of their broadcast when they submitted it to the Nielsen ratings service on June 18 & 19 so that those two newscasts wouldn't be counted as part of the week's Nightly News ratings. That way, the lower ratings on those two days wouldn't bring down the average weekly rating of the broadcast for Monday through Wednesday. (It should be noted that on both of those days, Nightly News aired at its regularly scheduled time.) This is unbelievable. This is shocking and reprehensible. This is the equivalent of giving a false name to the police so that their computers can't detect any prior arrests. This is manipulating the stats. This is cheating. For their weasely actions, Nightly News should be banned from participating in the Nielsen ratings service. But this was not a one-time occurrence. The following excerpt is from the July 7 tvnewser.com website:

"NBC Nightly News won the week, but lost about 40,000 Total Viewers from the week prior. The Brian Williams broadcast still had a 1.19M viewer lead over #2 ABC World News. The Charles Gibson broadcast gained 160,000 viewers week-to-week and had its best delivery since the week of May 4.

And for the fifth time this year, NBC News has coded one of their shows differently, which takes it out of the Nielsen average. Despite having full coverage last Thursday, Nightly News was called 'Nitely News.' NBC has also done this on June 9, 12, 18 and 19.

NBC experienced low coverage due to sports on June 9 (84%) and June 12 (83%). But the other three days they had regular coverage but those were either a Thursday or Friday, the two lowest rated days of the week. The practice, however, is within Nielsen's guidelines."

For five days in June, NBC producers intentionally misspelled the name "Nightly News" when they submitted it to Nielsen in order to avoid lowering their weekly ratings. Of course, the question is: How many other times has NBC pulled this stunt? Maybe any night the producers feel their viewership might be low, they submit Nightly News as "Nitely News". Perhaps they have a whole slew of aliases: Nightlee News, Nightleigh News, Nightly Nooz, Nightly Nuze, Nightly Nughes, etc. Obviously, this is okay with Brian. He and his producers have sold their souls to the devil for the sake of a few ratings points. I don't understand how Brian Williams (or Bryan Williams or Brian Willyums) can look at himself in the mirror without feeling a deep sense of shame over this unethical practice. Clearly, there is an integrity gap at NBC. Brian owes his viewers an apology and a promise that he and his producers will immediately end this vile deception.

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