Most Americans believe they get enough TV election coverage, says survey

The majority of U.S. adults believe local broadcasters provided “the right amount” or spent “too much” time covering the 2006 elections, according to a nationwide poll of 1007 Americans.

In a nationwide poll, conducted Nov. 3-5 by APCO Insight, respondents were asked about their views related to election coverage provided by local radio and television stations. The poll, commissioned by NAB, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

Among the key findings of the poll:

  • Fifty percent of adults believe local broadcasters are spending “too much time” covering the elections, while 37 percent say local stations are providing “about the right amount” of coverage. Ten percent think broadcasters spent “too little time” covering elections;
  • Local broadcast coverage of elections, whether in the form of news reports or candidate debates, was viewed by 30 percent of Americans as the “most helpful” factor in selecting a candidate, compared to 14 percent of adults who picked cable TV news coverage and 21 percent who selected newspaper coverage. Six percent chose paid radio and TV advertising as the “most helpful” factor in selecting a candidate;
  • By a margin of 70 percent to 23 percent, poll respondents oppose government-mandated free airtime for political candidates;
  • By more than a 2-1 margin, Americans believe that if political candidates were offered government-mandated free airtime, they would use the time for ads attacking their opponents as opposed to informing the public on issues through speeches, forums and debates;
  • By a 3-1 margin, poll respondents reject the suggestion that political candidates would raise less money if they did not have to pay for political advertising. Instead, they believe candidates would “continue raising money, and spend it on something else,” the poll found.

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