Oprah Winfrey - The Story of an Entrepreneur
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Case Code : LDEN006
Case Length : 14 Pages
Period : 1957-2000
Pub Date : 2002
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Infosys
Industry : Media and Entertainment Countries : Japan
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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.
The Mad Cow Controversy - A Talk Show Queen in Trouble Contd...
David Mullin, an attorney
representing cattle producers, said, "The message of the show was never
meant to be where opinions are shared. The show was meant to be scary."
The cattle producers claimed that Oprah knowingly aired false and defamatory
comments about the threat of mad cow disease in the US.
The show reportedly had a devastating impact on cattle prices and sales in the
Prices fell to a 10-year low within a week of the show, causing losses exceeding
$12 million to the cattle producers.
However, Chip Babcock, Oprah's attorney, claimed that the show in question was
fair and did not suggest that beef was unsafe.
on the decline in cattle prices following the show, Oprah's attorneys said that
the decline in prices was due to factors such as drought and oversupply.
Oprah soon aired a second show on the 'Mad Cow Disease,' with cattle industry
representatives on the discussion panel to arrive at a balanced perspective
on the issue.
Commenting on this, Bill O'Brien, a co-owner of the Texas Beef
Group said, "I do not think it repaired the damage.
She did not go on the
program and eat a hamburger before the world."
In February 2000, a federal court dismissed the suit against Oprah stating
that though Oprah's show melodramatized the issue, it did not give false
information to defame cattle producers.
The court also acquitted Lyman, stating that his statements,
though strongly stated, were based on established facts.
The issue attracted media attention all over the world,
highlighting Oprah's immense popularity and influence over her viewers. Oprah, with a business empire worth over $ 1 billion in 2002,
was unarguably the most successful female media personality ever.
How this lady
overcame her disturbed, troubled childhood, and several other problems to become
so popular and successful is essentially a story of her entrepreneurial and