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From AJR,   December 2002

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Local news viewers this fall were more likely to see campaign ads than election stories

By Jill Rosen
Jill Rosen is AJR's assistant managing editor     


Local television news viewers are four times more likely to see a campaign ad than an election story, according to a recent report.

The report says only 37 percent of 4,850 local newscasts studied included campaign coverage. However, during 72 percent of those broadcasts, a political commercial ran. In 52 percent of the newscasts, two ads aired.

On average, the study found, four ads ran for every election story. Or, considered another way, for every 39 seconds of election news coverage there was more than a minute of paid election advertising.

The Lear Center Local News Archive, a collaboration between the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and the University of Wisconsin's Department of Political Science, analyzed the early- and late-evening news programs on 122 stations in the top 50 markets between September 18 and October 24. The analysis is part of the center's ongoing study of local news.

"Many station managers feel that putting political news on their airwaves would be ratings poison for their news broadcasts," Martin Kaplan, associate dean of the Annenberg school and director of the Lear Center, said in a statement. "It looks like that fear doesn't apply to airing paid political ads during those same shows."

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