Study: Stations Slacking on Political Coverage

Oct 12, 2006  •  Post A Comment

A University of Wisconsin study released Thursday suggests Midwest TV stations are giving short shrift to election issues in post-Labor Day news programs.

The study of “typical early- and late-evening news broadcast” in nine Midwest markets said that TV stations devoted an average of 36 seconds per 30 minutes of news in their newscasts to election issues in the 30 days following the traditional Labor Day kickoff of the campaigns, as compared with more than 10 minutes of advertising, 7 minutes of sports and weather and 2½; minutes of crime stories.

The study also said that the political stories that appeared between Sept. 7 and Oct. 6 were largely about campaign strategy and horse races or polls rather than substantive issues.

“The results of the study show that most broadcasters are retreating from their obligation to search the public interest, including their responsibility to inform citizens so they can participate in the political process,” said Lawrence Hansen, VP of the Joyce Foundation, which funded the study.

The National Association of Broadcasters called the study “bogus.”

“It’s hard to take seriously a report that purports to document political coverage of local TV stations that ignores debates, public affairs programs, morning news, noon news, 4 p.m. news and Saturday-and Sunday-morning programming,” said NAB Executive VP Dennis Wharton.