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Media Systems and the Political Information Environment: A Cross-National Comparison

By James P. Curran, Sharon Coen, Toril Aalberg and Shanto Iyengar


To express attitudes and act according to their self-interest, citizens need relevant, up-to-date information about current affairs. But has the increased commercialization in the media market increased or decreased the flow of political information? Hallin and Mancini stress that the existing empirical evidence is fragmented and that this question therefore has been difficult to answer. In this article the authors present new data that allow them to systematically examine how the flow of political information on TV occurs across six Western countries during a thirty-year period. The authors find that the flow of political information through TV varies according to the degree of commercialization. The flow of news and current affairs is lowest in the most commercially oriented television system and among the commercial TV channels. There is however important cross-national variation even within similar media systems. The authors’ data do not suggest a convergence toward the liberal system when it comes to the political information environment on TV. Rather, what strikes them is how strongly resistant some European countries have been to subordinating the needs of democracy to profit making

Topics: P300, P500
Publisher: Sage
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:

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