One of the most profound influences on social and political change over the course of the last half century has been the development of the electronic mass media, especially television. The advent of television has changed the way that politics, and in particular election campaigns, are played out. Scholars have researched the political role of television in many respects and looked at the influence of television as a whole on politics. However, there has been little if any investigation of distinctions that might occur between public and commercial television audiences, despite the various political implications such distinctions may have. In Australia, where the national public broadcaster is distinguished from privately owned television channels by not running paid advertising and by having a greater emphasis on serious political journalism, and there is another publicly funded channel with a broader world and multicultural focus, the prospect that the audiences of these channels might differ from those of the commercial stations is particularly intriguing. This paper uses data from the 2001 Australian Election Study to explore differences between viewers who rely on different television channels for election news. The paper investigates not only whether the different audiences are distinctive in socio-demographic terms but also whether they vary in terms of political orientations and leanings
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