Viewers Flee Conventions
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
The national television audience for political conventions has erroded substantially
over the years, and the Big Three networks have responded by cutting hours of
coverage they devote to them. At the same time, the rise of the all-news cable
networks has attracted an increasing share of the TV audience.
Source: CBS. 1988 to 1996 cable network numbers are for CNN only.
2000 cable network numbers include CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
Network Coverage Takes The Plunge
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Convention coverage on NBC, CBS and ABC has plunged since the 1960s to just
three hours for each national political convention this year. According to a Harvard
study, each broadcast network's coverage peaked at 36 hours in 1968, partly because
of the riots in Chicago that disrupted the Democratic Convention. In 1972, ABC
broadcast other programs such as movies during prime-time hours, according to
the center's Thomas Patterson, but he noted that ABC later returned to more complete
coverage. Patterson attributes the big fall-off in 1988 to declining ad revenue
and the rise of CNN, the sole cable news network at the time.
Source: Vanishing Voter Project, The Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press
Politics & Public Policy, Harvard University
Not Much Nourishment
Monday, July 26, 2004
Americans continue to cite network television news programs on the Big Three
(NBC, CBS and ABC) as a major source of political news, but as this chart demonstrates,
they are getting a slender diet. The time the nets have devoted to campaign coverage
sank from 1,728 minutes in the run-up to the 1988 Dukakis-Bush conventions to
967 just eight years later. NBC Nightly News made the biggest cuts. Where once
the networks seemed inspired by their public-service mission, lately their news
judgments seem motivated more by audience tastes. Studies show that young people,
the prime target for todays demographic-driven news, shun politics.
Source: ADT Research. Weekday network nightly news campaign coverage since
Labor Day of the previous year (in minutes)