Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2014

Nielsen madness hooks TV junkie

By Lacey Jacobs, Ledger staff writer | Nov 17, 2011

The Nielsen Company telemarketer is my new best friend — just check the call log on my cell phone. Line after line of missed calls from the company’s 800 number fill the little screen.

I’m already participating — diligently, I might add — in the Nielsen survey; I don’t feel obligated to answer their incessant calls as well.

For the past week, I’ve been following the simple instructions in their little television-viewing diary — and having to write down everything I watch is probably the best deterrent to TV I’ve ever encountered.

I know — who would really know if I didn’t enter time in front of the flat screen? How would The Nielsen Company know I didn’t watch 17 hours straight of television on Sunday? (I didn’t by the way).

I guess I just feel obligated by that good-faith participation payment that came in the mail with the packet. I was pleasantly surprised with cold hard cash — my mom’s family got a “nifty” (her word) TV-shaped clock back in the ’60s.

Maybe it’s the fond memories the survey conjures of my freshman year of college when I was first introduced to the television rating company.

Professor Sivell made everyone in class complete a Nielsen survey for credit. Ahh, good ol’ introduction to mass communications, for which I read George Orwell’s “1984,” watched “Network” starring Faye Dunaway and William Holden and subscribed to “Newsweek.” The evil “Newsweek” billing department that harassed me my entire first semester is a whole other story.

I am admittedly a TV junkie, and that’s really quite a feat since I don’t have cable or satellite. My rabbit ears currently pick up three channels: Fox, The CW and Antenna TV.

The switch to digital television was a fail in my book — I lost all access to Iowa Public Television channels and British sitcoms like “Keeping Up Appearances.” I don’t even get the evening news!

I suspect the Nielsen researchers are going to be rather disappointed with my results. No “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” “Mad Men” or “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” in my TV diary. Try “Roseanne” and “The Cosby Show” most mornings as background noise while I get ready for work.

Do you think that half hour I watched “Gidget” on Antenna TV will spur a comeback? I sure hope not — in nearly every episode Gidget seems to fail in a quest to demonstrate female equality. Distressing yes, but does that make her a worse role model than the cavorting teens in “90210” — seriously, where are their parents?

Last night marked the end of my TV chronicles — the end of a quieter than usual week at my apartment. Under normal circumstances, infomercials for P90X or WEN hair care products might be allowed to run unchecked in the background.

Instead, I reacquainted myself with the radio. And I pounced on the remote after Tuesday’s episode of “New Girl,” wanting to avoid any potential endorsement of the following “Raising Hope.”

On the other hand, will my devotion to “Bones” result in even more ridiculous product placements for cars and cell phones in every episode?

The pressure!

The future of television rests in my hands — luckily, it rests in the hands of more than a million other Americans too, and they probably get cable!

 

Lacey Jacobs is a Ledger staff writer.

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