Cross ownership has positive effect on local media coverage, researcher finds

Jan 23, 2008

The recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to loosen restrictions on cross ownership of newspapers and broadcast television stations in the same market has met with criticism from consumer advocates and members of Congress that a cross ownership would diminish the quality of local news coverage.

However, the effect may be just the opposite, according to a University of Missouri study, which found that cross-owned television stations produce a greater percentage of local programming news content when compared to other network-affiliated stations in the same market.

“Local television newscasts for cross-owned stations contain on average about one or two minutes more news coverage overall, or 4 to 8 percent more than the average for non-cross-owned stations,” said Jeff Milyo, an economics professor at MU’s Truman School of Public Affairs and Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington D.C. “Cross-owned stations also show 7 to 10 percent more local news and offer about 25 percent more coverage of local and state politics.”

Milyo also evaluated the political slant of the news coverage and found that overall cross ownership had no consistent or significant effect on local news.

“All local newscasts in a market have the same political slant, regardless of ownership; this is s is broadly consistent with other research on political slant in newspapers,” Milyo said. “We do see a difference across markets, but not within. “In general, a market that is serving more consumers that are Democrat leaning is going to give a slant or ‘flavor’ to the news that tends to be a little more Democratic and similar for Republican markets.”

Commissioned by the FCC’s chief economist, Milyo’s study compared broadcasts from 29 cross-owned stations located in 27 U.S. markets to those of major network affiliated competitors in the same market. A total of 312 recordings from 104 stations were compiled from the week prior to the November 2006 elections.

“To study whether cross ownership lead to political bias, I chose measures of political slant that were easily quantifiable in the broadcasts,” Milyo said. “For instance, I compared if there were more Democrat or Republican candidates interviewed or discussed and if more of one party’s issues were mentioned than the other. The broadcasts from cross-owned companies showed little difference when compared to those of other major networks.”

No previous study has examined the local news content and slant of every cross-owned station, nor have they appropriately controlled for differences in market characteristics such as the salience of current events and local preferences for news coverage, making this the most comprehensive analysis to date, Milyo said.

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

Explore further: Collin Burns in 5.253 seconds sets Rubik's Cube time record (w/ Video)

Related Stories

Sentinel-2A arrives in French Guiana for 12 June launch

16 minutes ago

The latest satellite for the European Commission's environmental Copernicus programme has arrived safe and sound in French Guiana for launch on 12 June. Carrying a multispectral imager, Sentinel-2A is set ...

A novel pathway producing dimethylsulphide in bacteria

16 minutes ago

A scientific team that includes researchers from the University of Barcelona (UB) has identified a novel pathway producing dimethylsulphide, a volatile organosulfur compound which plays a major role in climate regulation.

Direct visualization of magnetoelectric domains

17 minutes ago

A novel microscopy technique called magnetoelectric force microscopy (MeFM) was developed to detect the local cross-coupling between magnetic and electric dipoles. Combined experimental observation and theoretical ...

Avoid 'crape murder' with limited pruning

21 minutes ago

Efforts to prevent people from committing "crape murder" are reducing the number of unsightly, knobby-knuckled branch ends but may leave people wondering how to correctly shape crape myrtles.

Secret life of penguins revealed

22 minutes ago

To mark World Penguin Day (25 April 2015) citizen science project Penguin Watch will release 500,000 new images of penguins and reveal secrets from a year of spying on penguins. ...

Recommended for you

Report details benefits of investment in basic research

Apr 27, 2015

Last year was a notable one for scientific achievements: In 2014, European researchers discovered a fundamental new particle that sheds light on the origins of the universe, and the European Space Agency ...

Heinz Awards honors six for solving critical human issues

Apr 23, 2015

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher who has developed artificial human "microlivers" that can safely test the toxicity of drugs without endangering lives is one of six people chosen to receive Heinz Awards.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.