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A 2010 promotional shot of Oprah Winfrey for the Oprah Winfrey Network. - Provided courtesy of Discovery

Oprah Winfrey slammed over Tweet, seen as bid to draw ratings

02/14/2012 by Corinne Heller

Oprah Winfrey has apologized after posting a Tweet asking people to watch her cable channel OWN, a move that was mocked by several Twitter users.

She had launched the network last year after ending her hit syndicated talk show "The Oprah Winfrey Show" after 25 years. OWN has struggled in the ratings, although it has seen a rise since the premiere of her series "Oprah's Next Chapter" in January.

On Sunday, February 11, Winfrey's Twitter page, which is verified, featured a Tweet that said: "Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if u have a Neilsen box (sic)."

The New York Times said officials from OWN and Nielsen "corresponded on Monday morning" and that Winfrey's Tweet was then deleted.

"I removed the tweet at the request of Nielsen," she told the newspaper. "I intended no harm and apologize for the reference."

The New York Times quoted a Nielsen spokesperson as saying that a Nielsen report referencing ratings of OWN at the time of her Tweet will contain an asterisk to indicate a "possible biasing effect."

The Nielsen Company has tracked and published ratings for broadcast programs for decades. It researches viewership of network and cable television by installing boxes in about 25,000 homes in communities across the United States. It selects participants randomly and aims to provide an accurate estimate of consumer behavior.

Winfrey has a massive fan base thanks to her successful talk show. Her Twitter page is followed by more than 9.2 million people. Her account and the message she posted was public, viewable by every people browsing Twitter feeds.

''DESPERATE' OPRAH'

"Can you help desperate Oprah out," Twitter user Britta16 posted on Monday, referencing user steveokdwb. He later posted a screenshot of the Twitter conversation on Dave Ryan's KDWB radio show, based in Minneapolis, adding: "OPRAH KNOWS MY NAME! HELL YEAH!!!!!!!!!"

He later Tweeted on Tuesday: "I don't want to take credit for getting Oprah in trouble but I HEART her."

"'Desperate' not ever a part of my vocab," said a message posted on Winfrey's page in response to the two.

Twitter user carol57ny told her: Don't beg - pitiful (sic)," to which Winfrey responded: "Just making a request, since I can't watch myself. Choice is yours."

Twitter user growingupgranby also reTweeted Winfrey's original Tweet, adding: "This isnt a good sign:begging for viewers on Twitter?"

"The word 'please' is used as courtesy not a beg," Winfrey replied.

Winfrey has used her Twitter account to promote OWN, even after her controversial Nielsen-related Tweet.

"Commercial Grammy people..u can turn to OWN," she Tweeted on Sunday evening, during the 2012 Grammy Awards.

On February 6, message on a Twitter page promoting "Oprah's Next Chapter," posted on February 6, referenced Winfrey's Twitter account and asked: @Oprah how in the world do we get the local cable/satellite provider to show #OWN in HighDefinition?"

"One thing depends on the other," she answered. "Gotta get the ratings, then the commitment from cable /sat provider."

Winfrey's Tweet that referenced a Nielsen box was posted on Sunday just after 9 p.m., at the start of a new episode of "Oprah's Next Chapter" and during the 2012 Grammy Awards, which featured a tribute to iconic singer Whitney Houston, who died on Saturday before at a hotel in Beverly Hills, California (see details about her funeral).

Winfrey Tweeted that she is working on an OWN special that will pay tribute to Houston. It is set to air on Thursday, she said.

"To me Whitney was THE VOICE," Winfrey Tweeted on Monday. "We got to hear a part of God every time she sang. Heart is heavy, spirit grateful for the GIFT of her."

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