Nielsen sorry for ratings foul-up

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Nielsen Media Research is apologizing to all of its customers, especially
CBS, for its problems this week.

The national ratings service has been down since Monday after being
questioned by Fox and CBS Sports researchers for its data relating to
Sunday-afternoon and Sunday-evening network programming.

CBS Sports' metered-market ratings and national figures for the final round
of The Masters golf tournament were initially released and then recalled by
Nielsen, as were similar ratings for the other major networks' programming. The
national weekly ratings for the week of April 2 through 8 have also been
delayed.

Nielsen executives said their mainframe computer had maintenance work done
Sunday, and when it came back online, it failed to factor in daylight savings
time.

'We made a mistake. Actually, we made a series of mistakes in processing
Sunday's data,' Nielsen vice president of communications Jack Loftus said. 'And
it was compounded when we released data that should not have been released
because it was wrong. We realize that we let a lot of people down, that we let
CBS down because it was a terrible time to have this happen.'

Loftus added that Sunday's figures will be released Thursday and most of
Monday's, Tuesday's and Wednesday's ratings will be back on track by Thursday
afternoon, as well.

Fox executives said they called Nielsen executives Monday after seeing
unusually low ratings for an original episode of The X-Files.

'Everything about Sunday's figures seemed off,' a Fox spokesman said.
Nielsen's Monday-morning figures had The X-Files at a 5.2 rating/13 share, well off its season average of an 8.5/18.

The Nielsen blackout has also shut down ratings at major cable networks.
Executives at USA Network, FX and several others said they have not received
national ratings since last weekend. An FX spokesman said his network has been
notified by Nielsen that regular weekly and nightly results will resume by the
end of Wednesday, but Sunday (April 8) ratings are still up in the
air.

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