'Those that mocked the idea of a tune out the joke was on them'

By James Hibberd
Updated February 29, 2016 at 08:04 PM EST
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The seeming decline in this year’s Oscar viewership has the Rev. Al Sharpton declaring victory.

Though the numbers are not yet final, Sunday’s telecast of the 88th annual Academy Awards is apparently the show’s lowest ratings in eight years.

The numbers prompted the civil rights leader to release a statement taking some credit for the ratings being down, having called for a boycott of ABC’s coverage due to a lack of black nominated actors.

“The early reports of a decline in the Oscar viewership is heartening to those of us that campaigned around asking citizens to tune out,” he wrote. “This is a significant decline and should send a message to the Academy and to movie studio heads. Though clearly we don’t take full credit for the decline, certainly one would have to assume we were effective and part of the decline. And to those that mocked the idea of a tune-out, it seems the joke was on them. This is not about actors and actresses getting awards, this is about inclusion and the respect of ticket-buyers and viewers who are ordinary struggling American citizens who have been marginalized. For those that live and work in Los Angeles in the movie industry and can’t get jobs because people from their community can’t get deals because there is no one there to greenlight their films and work, this ought to send a message to Hollywood that it is time for a change.”

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While Sharpton could be correct that a tune-out campaign reduced the annual program’s viewership, broadcast ratings have also been on the decline and the early numbers were not a huge surprise to insiders — last year’s Oscars delivered the show’s lowest ratings in six years and was not the subject of a boycott.

Last month, Sharpton told THR: “… people understand that they don’t have to march, they don’t have to picket, they don’t have to go to Hollywood — all they have to do is turn the dial. If enough people turn the dial, you can move that dial with the Nielsen ratings a couple of points, it will send shivers up the spine of many of the advertisers.”

Oscars 2016

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