'Ballot stuffing' allegations surround kudos

The soap opera world is in a lather over allegations of dirty tricks involving the voting for the upcoming Soap Opera Digest awards.

The weekly magazine devoted to the daytime suds circuit conducts a yearly reader’s poll that determines the winners of its annual kudocast, set to air Feb. 27 on NBC.

In a statement issued Monday, ABC conceded that an individual associated with one of the Alphabet web’s serials purchased numerous newsstand copies of the Nov. 11 issue containing the ballot from a wholesale distributor of Soap Opera Digest.

Broadcast threatened

After NBC execs got word of the alleged effort to stuff the ballot box in ABC’s favor, Peacock web brass threatened to yank the awards show unless the mag sent out a fresh batch of ballots. Those ballots are going out in the Jan. 27 issue only to Soap Opera Digest’s 600,000 subscribers; ballots will not be included in newsstand copies.

“We learned of a problem involving one of Soap Opera Digest’s magazine wholesalers selling a minimal number of copies of the Soap Opera Digest ballot issue to a person associated with one of our shows,” the ABC statement said.

Tainted copies

“Soap Opera Digest advised us that the wholesaler improperly sold the magazines to this individual rather than through a retailer, as they are obliged to do, and also sold the issues after the off-sale date. … For this reason, ABC supports Soap Opera Digest’s decision to reballot for the 1998 Soap Opera Digest Awards.”

Soap Opera Digest editor-in-chief Lynn Leahey tried to put the best face on the scandal, which spread through the daytime TV world like wildfire last week.

“We’re happy that we could arrive at a solution to the problem that will make the daytime industry comfortable with the results of the competition,” said Leahey in a statement.

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