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Donald V. Taverner, president, WETA-TV, Greater Washington Educational

Telecommunications Association, Inc., 3620 South 27th St., Arlington, Va. C. Gregory Van Camp, director of radio, television and motion pictures and gen

eral manager, WWVU-TV, West Virginia Board of Regents, Hotel Morgan, Morgantown, W. Va.

BOARD OF GOVERNORS, PUBLIC BROADCASTING SERVICE WOED-Pittsburgh, M. M. Anderson, 4802 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. WIPB_Muncie, Edmund F. Ball, chairman, Ball Corp., Muncie, Ind. KOED—San Francisco, Mrs. Allan E. Charles, 850 Francisco St., San Francisco,

Calif. WTVS-Detroit, Mrs. Edward N. Cole, 1371 Kirkway, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. WSKG-Binghamton, Salvatore A. Fauci, Simonds & Fauci, 43 Washington Ave.,

Endicott, N.Y. University of North Carolina Television Network, William C. Friday, president,

University of North Carolina, General Administration Building, Chapel Hill,

N.C. WDCN-Nashville, Alfred C. Galloway, president, Community Federal Savings &

Loan Association, 2605 Jefferson St., Nashville, Tenn. WWVU—Morgantown, James G. Harlow, president, West Virginia University,

Morgantown, W. Va. WCET—Cincinnati, C. Bart Hawley, central region manager, Borden Chemical

Division, Borden, Inc., 925 Laurel Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio. Nebraska Educational Television Commission, Philip Heckman, president, Doane

College, Crete, Nebr. WNET—New York, Ethan A. Hitchcock, Webster, Sheffield, Fleischmann, Hitch

cock & Brookfield, One Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N.Y. WETV --Atlanta, Richard Hodges, Jr., Liller, Neal, Battle & Lindsey, Inc., Life

of Georgia Tower, Atlanta, Ga. WETA–Washington, D.C., Sidney L. James, 2101 Connecticut Ave. NW., Wash

ington, D.C. WGBH-Boston, John Lowell, Welch & Forbes, 73 Tremont St., Boston, Mass. WMEB-Orono, Maine, Donald R. McNeil, chancellor, University of Maine, 228

Deering Ave., Portland, Maine. WTTW-Chicago, Newton N. Minow, Sidley & Austin, One First National Plaza,

Chicago, Ill. Iowa Educational Broadcasting Network, William B. Quarton (November 1

April 30), Plaza East, PhN, 4300 North Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; (May 1-October 31), 1204 Merchants National Bank Building, Cedar Rapids,

Iowa KERA-Dallas, Ralph B. Rogers, chairman, Texas Industries, Inc., 8100 Car

penter Freeway, Dallas, Tex. WMFE-Orlando, Fla., Mrs. Bert E. Roper, Box 42E, Route 1, Winter Garden,

Fla. Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting, Leonard H. Rosenberg, chairman,

Chesapeake Life Insurance Co., 527 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Md. WTIU-Bloomington, John W. Ryan, president, Indiana University, 200 Bryan

Administration Bldg., Bloomington, Ind. KAET-Tempe, John W. Schwada, president, Arizona State University, Tempe,

Ariz. Mississippi Authority for Educational Television, Irby Turner, Jr., P.O. Box 519,

Belzoni, Miss. KCTS-Seattle, Robert G. Waldo, vice president for University Relation, Uni

versity of Washington, 400 Administration Bldg., Seattle, Wash. KEDT—Corpus Christi, Don E. Weber, P.O, Box 559, Corpus Christi, Tex.

Television News and Televised Political Advertising:

Their Impact on the Voter


Washington, D.C., April 16, 1974. Mr. HARTFORD N. GUNN, JR. Public Broadcasting Service, L'Enfant Plaza West, S.W., Washington, D.C.

DEAR MR. GUNN: Thank you for your comments as requested during the recent Joint Committee hearings. I have forwarded them to the Committee so that they can be inserted in the record.

At the same time, however, I would like to express my personal thanks to you for taking the time to share these comments with me. Sincerely,


Member of Congress.


Washington, D.C., April 10, 1974. Hon. JAMES C. CLEVELAND, House of Representatives, Rayburn House Ofice Building, Washington, D.C.

DEAR CONGRESSMAN CLEVELAND: This letter is in response to your request during my testimony before the Joint Committee on Congressional Operations concerning Congress and the Mass Media of March 7, 1974 that we look at and comment on a study conducted by two Syracuse University professors.

The study, titled “Political Advertising: Voter Reaction to Televised Political Commercials" by Thomas Patterson and Robert D. McClure, discusses the value of political TV spot announcements. According to the book, their value lies in reaching the low and moderate interest voter who does not take the time to look at the news or in-depth issue reporting, but appears to respond to the commercial format of a 60-second political issue commercial.

The study also is limited to a survey of 600 voters, dealing with only three political spots, the "Democrats for Nixon spots," run between a period of September 1972 to November 1972. The complexities, nature of the personalities involved, and general tenor of that election year would seem to suggest a need for more thorough research. Indeed, the authors themselves caution against drawing general conclusions from their results.

We feel that this type of approach may be valuable for commercial television, but public television is prohibited by law from broadcasting any type of political spots. We do program lengthy issues and interview programs which have sizable audiences.

A companion study written by the same authors which received no publicity is, “Television News and Televised Political Advertising: Their Impact on the Voter." This study goes into more depth on the influence of news and other factors in an election campaign. The conclusions of that companion study are:

*Networks should reduce their coverage of campaign activity and "pseudo political events.” Survey evidence indicates voter preferences for more issue coverage and candidate interviews.

*Networks should provide in-depth coverage of fewer stories rather than continuing their superficial coverage of many stories. This format would enhance voter learning.

*Because televised political ads are highly effective communicators, "free time" for televised political commercials ought to be part of American campaigns. It would equalize candidate access to the medium, reduce costs, and bring desirable information to the otherwise poorly informed voter.

We would think that public broadcasters would tend to agree with these reactions. Programs distributed by PBS during the 1972 election year centered around the concept of in-depth coverage of a few stories, with candidates being interviewed frequently. PBS programs had little or no coverage of campaign activity or “pseudo political events" such as rallies or demonstrations. Furthermore, PTV stations have increasingly offered time to opposing candidates for State and local offices for debates and other programs throughout the nation. I hope this is helpful. If I can be of further assistance, please let me know. Sincerely,





Thomas E. Patterson and Robert D. McClure
Department of Political Science

Syracuse University

Prepared for delivery at the National Conference on Money and Politics, sponsored by the Citizens Research Foundation, John F. Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C., February 27-28, 1974. Authors' permission not required to quote or summarize results. However, authors' permission required before data in tables may be reproduced or used extensively.

The research presented here was conducted under National Science Foundation Grant GS-35408, Robert D. McClure and Thomas E. Patterson, principal investigators. The support of the Foundation is gratefully acknowledged.

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This paper presents some of the first, systematic evidence on the voter impact of television news and televised political advertising. Based on a careful monitoring of the television exposure of more than 600 voters during the 1972 presidential election, the paper focuses on the relative contributions of television news and advertising to voters' awareness of candidates' issue positions. The paper concludes with several recommendations for improved use of television in American political campaigns.

Results of the analyses indicate that:

*Exposure to television network news had only minimal

impact on voters' awareness of candidates' issue

*When impact due to television news exposure existed,
it was limited to a few issues and to voters who
had low exposure to newspapers. (This finding
contrasts sharply with the effects of newspaper
exposure--newspapers had a substantial voter impact
on almost all issues and under almost all conditions
of exposure to other media.)

*In contrast with television news, exposure to televised
political advertising had significant impact on voters'
issue awareness.

*The effects of political advertising were clearest among
voters with low exposure to news sources.

*Television news had minimal effects because it simply
did not provide voters with much information about
candidates' issue positions, preferring instead action
film of campaign activity and "pseudo events." (For
example, during the period Sept. 18 to Nov. 6, 1972,
televised political advertising contained twice as
much explicit content about candidates' issue positions
as the total weeknight news coverage on the average

*The format of television news is an obstacle to
communicating issue in formation. The brevity of its
stories often precludes explicit linkages of events
with candidates' issue positions. Rapid presentation
creates a montage effect that confuses viewers and
hinders information retention.

Based on these findings, recommendations for improved use of television in American politics include:

*Networks should reduce their coverage of campaign
activity and "pseudo political events." These

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