NAB Disputes Pew News Source Study

The association says the report which said cable was the top regular source of election news should win the “Fuzzy Math Prize of the Year.”

The Pew Research Center reported yesterday on Americans’ sources for campaign news. The report concluded cable news was the top regular source for election coverage, with 36% of respondents claiming cable news is their top source for campaign coverage.

NAB has taken exception to the survey. Dennis Wharton, the association’s EVP of communications, issued the following statement today:

“A look inside the numbers shows something quite different, and could qualify Pew as a winner of the “Fuzzy Math Prize of the Year.” Thirty-two percent of survey participants cited local TV stations as their top source of news, while another 26% reported network broadcast TV news was their main source for election news. Thus, 58% of Pew survey respondents cited broadcast television as their primary source for campaign coverage, vastly surpassing the 36% who cited cable networks.

“As an example of broadcasters’ preeminent role in delivering news, according to Nielsen, the president’s State of the Union address recently attracted an audience of 37.75 million viewers (27.56 million households). Broadcast networks made up 28.09 million of those viewers (20.45 million households) and cable networks made up 9.66 million viewers (7.11 million households). By a nearly 3-1 margin, viewers turned to broadcast television over cable networks for this politically newsworthy event.

“Broadcasters are once again ramping up their efforts to keep Americans informed of their choices on the ballot during the 2012 election cycle. The E.W. Scripps Co. just announced it will offer a minimum of five minutes a night of free airtime to candidates in all 13 of the company’s television markets in the 30 days preceding general and primary elections. The effort, which follows a similar free airtime policy during the national elections in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010, is part of the broadcaster’s “Democracy 2012” news coverage. Other broadcasters have pledged similar free airtime to candidates for the 2012 election, including Post-Newsweek Stations and Hearst Television. We expect similar announcements from more local broadcast groups will follow.”

Comments (3)

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Gregg Palermo says:

February 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Wharton is plenty “fuzzy” himself. You cannot add the percentage for one type of news (local news) to another percentage for a different type of news (election news)! Pew made no claims for total news, only national election news. Instead Wharton needed to fess up that 26% for campaign news at the national level qualifies the broadcast platform as a big-L loser. The other 74% of users go elsewhere for election news, effectively fleeing broadcast with each successive campaign. But don’t expect broadcasters to acknowledge their comparative irrelevance. No, they cling to their me-too coverage of local news, ripping and reading from the daily newspaper.

    David Siegler says:

    February 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Clearly you don’t read a daily newspaper or you’d realize how far off base your closing statement is. Local newspapers are cutting staff faster than local or national television news departments are and the lion’s share of what is printed in most of them credit other national or international news organizations. Sadly, there are many who would read your misguided comments and assume them to be fact because they are on the internet.

    mike tomasino says:

    February 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    And, local newscasts don’t cover national news? Rustbelt, your the one who is irrelevant. And, who’s better qualified to cover local political news? A local broadcaster, or CNN/Fox News?