Covertly consolidated: political advertisements, issues and local television news in the age of big-money politics

Ruiz, Paul
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University of Delaware
Media ownership structures have a tremendous impact on the quality of information in local places. Following the 1996 Telecommunications Act, various deregulatory reforms diminished the number of independent voices in local broadcast media. One such arrangement, involving the ownership of local television stations, covertly consolidates news operations and often duplicates content within markets. As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), there are more participants presenting political information at a time when there are fewer journalists to cover those claims. This study examined the Honolulu, Hawai’i media market where three out of the five local stations have entered into an active Shared Services Agreement. A content analysis methodology was employed to examine whether the issues found in political ads were present in the political news stories of local broadcasts. It found that local television news programs did not critically evaluate the issues that were presented in the political advertisements.