Election Coverage Trumps Ads

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According to a poll commissioned by the National Association of Broadcasters, nine out of 10 Americans said broadcasters are providing sufficient coverage of elections, while almost one-half (48%) said they provide too much coverage.

But if the poll is right, broadcasters' public interest investment in covering campaigns may trump all those campaign dollars going to boost the bottom lines of TV and radio stations. When asked which was most helpful in picking a candidate, 48% said the free political time--debates, news coverage--while only 1% said paid political advertising.

Almost a quarter--24%--cited cable news coverage as most helpful. Tying for third was newspaper coverage and "none of these." The other options were campaign literature, face-to-face meeting or appearance, "all of these" and "no answer."

Two thirds of the 1,001 surveyed by Wirthlin Worldwide (margin of error plus or minus 3.1%) said "no" when asked if they thought "that local broadcast radio and television stations be forced by the government to give free air time to political candidates to use as they wish."

NAB President/CEO Eddie Fritts said the association encourages members to provide "comprehensive campaign coverage, and this poll demonstrates that Americans believe broadcasters are doing just that."

Radio-Television News Directors Association President Barbara Cochran applauded the findings, saying: "Local stations take seriously their responsibility to provide fair and comprehensive election coverage."

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