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November 21, 2006
Dennis Wharton
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NAB Blasts Second UW-Madison NewsLab Election Coverage Study

The following statement can be attributed to NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton:

"Once again, University of Wisconsin NewsLab researchers demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of how broadcasting works and how viewers get their news. Local stations air political coverage during many dayparts, and not just in the narrow time frame of weekday evening newscasts. By failing to acknowledge the totality of free air time freely given by broadcasters -- including morning news, noon news, weekend public affairs programming and televised debates -- these researchers do a huge disservice to the academic community. Bottom line: this is a shoddy and intellectually dishonest report from an agenda-driven organization."

The University of Wisconsin has previously released similar biased studies founded upon flawed methodology as was noted in a recent Broadcasting & Cable magazine editorial.

Other related polls, commentaries and stories related to broadcasters' free airtime efforts include:

  • Nationwide Poll Shows Broad Approval for Broadcast Election Coverage
    NAB news release -- November 16, 2006
  • An overwhelming majority of American adults believe local broadcasters provided "the right amount" or "too much" time covering the 2006 elections, according to a nationwide poll of 1,007 Americans. Bolstering the claim that Americans approve of broadcast election coverage were the Nielsen ratings for election night, which showed that 23 million Americans relied on broadcast election coverage provided by ABC, CBS and NBC during the 10 o'clock hour. The figure is nearly four times greater than the 6.1 million combined viewers of CNN, Fox News and MSNBC during the same hour.

  • Media Deserve Thanks For Election Coverage
  • Guest Commentary by former FCC senior adviser Kenneth Robinson
    TVNEWSDAY -- November 17, 2006
    In some countries, the government pays to inform people about when the elections are and who won. Here, media do it for free. Will anyone in government give the industry a pat "atop its collective head?"

  • Study: Stations Short on Election Coverage
    By Scott Bauer, Associated Press -- October 12, 2006
    "Television journalists dismissed the [NewsLab] study as unfair and not to be trusted — primarily because it ignored elections reports in public affairs programming and the airing of debates."
  • Couric, Gibson will lead election night for 1st time
    By David Bauder, Associated Press -- October 21, 2006
    "... [A] study released by the Center for Media and Public Affairs this week found that the network evening news programs are covering this year's midterm election campaign three times as heavily as they did in 2002."
  • Midterm Mania
    By Andrew Tyndall, Broadcasting & Cable -- November 6, 2006
    "... [T]he Big Three broadcast networks' coverage of this campaign has already broken the record set for midterm coverage 12 years ago."
  • Voters Rush to Internet Broadcasting Sites in Record Numbers on Election Day
    Business Wire -- November 8, 2006
    "With numerous hotly contested races throughout the nation, a record 3.5 million visitors turned to the company’s local TV news sites to view election results."
  • NAB's Free Air Times
    The community service chronicle of local broadcasters.
    late October issue

About NAB
The National Association of Broadcasters is a trade association that advocates on behalf of more than 8,300 free, local radio and television stations and also broadcast networks before Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and the Courts. Information about NAB can be found at


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