They Report, Viewers Polarize


Cable news has been a growth area, albeit modest, for the TV-journalism business, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. But with that growth has come an increased ideological polarization.

The number of respondents who said they regularly watch Fox News Channel, whose growth has been dramatic, has increased from 17% to 25% in the past two years, and is one of the major drivers of that overall growth.

More than half of the viewers to that network now describe themselves as politically conservative, up from 40% four years ago. On the other side, a greater percentage of viewers to archrival CNN now describe themselves as Democrats.

Fox's biggest gains have been with Republicans, says the study, But Fox's viewer base is not simply fueled by conservatives. More Democrats regularly watch Fox than watch or listen to any of the nightly broadcast newscasts, NPR or NewsHour, according to the study.

The biennial study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press was a nationwide poll of 3,000 adults conducted April 19-May 12, 2004.