Who knew? I am the average American family

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

The next time your favorite TV program is cancelled, you might want to go next door and blame your neighbor.
As long as I can remember, the majority of the programming that I have enjoyed has been cancelled, sometimes before a full season has been aired. The list is endless, but I’ve always said, if I like it, it won’t last.
And who’s to blame? Those darn Nielsen ratings.
“Views weren’t tuning in,” I read. “It didn’t appeal enough to the targeted demographic,” networks said in their defense of cancelling stellar  shows like Reunion, yanked from the airways after only nine episodes. Or China Beach, set at an evacuation hospital during the Vietnam War. Or Journeyman, starring that devilishly good looking Kevin McKidd. Quality programming, gone in an instant–or a season.
And all because the Nielsen ratings didn’t support them.
Just what were these notorious Nielsen ratings, I wondered over the years, later discovering the Nielsen Company is diverse marketing and research group.
Their focus with television research is to select families who assume the moniker, “Nielsen family” to view and report back what they watch on TV.
Then who are these Nielsen families? Obviously they don’t  know their brass from their woodwind.
And then, almost magically, one day a month ago, I received in my mailbox THE letter. “You have been selected to be a Nielsen family,” it said.
“What? Me? I get to be responsible for helping decide the fate of American television viewers?”
Finally a chance to make a real difference, I thought.
And so the diaries arrived–one for each working television in the house.
And the research began–writing down everything my household watched–even if it was just on in the background while I’m getting ready for work.
I was talking with Myra Monroe, news director for Gainesville Television Network a while back and learned from her that there are a lot of Nielsen families in Levy County.
The power of television programming is resting in the hands of your friends and neighbors.
So next time your favorite show is cancelled due to low ratings, definitely go next door and blame your neighbor.
Just don’t blame me. I have impeccable taste.
Carolyn Ten Broeck, editor of the Williston Pioneer, enjoys a sundry of television programming include People’s Court, Law and Order, South Park and Weeds – all of which are still on the air – for now.