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Telecracy: Testing for Channels of Persuasion

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Author Info

  • Guglielmo Barone

    ()
    (Bank of Italy)

  • Francesco D'Acunto

    ()
    (Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley)

  • Gaia Narciso

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin)

Abstract

Can biased information persuade in the long run? Political information on Italian TV has been biased towards Berlusconi's party since 1994. We exploit a shock to viewers' exposure to Berlusconi bias: idiosyncratic deadlines to switch to digital TV from 2008 to 2012. Digital TV increased the number of freeview channels tenfold. As a consequence, viewership of Berlusconi-controlled channels by digital users dropped by 19% from 2008 to 2010 elections. Although the control of most pre-digital outlets by Berlusconi was widely known, the switch caused a drop in his coalition vote share by 5.5 to 7.5 percentage points. The e ect was stronger in towns with older and less educated voters. At least 30% of digital users had not ltered out the bias from 1994 to 2010. Moving to digital TV a ected voting via turnout: previous Berlusconi supporters went to vote less than others, hence his vote share dropped. We discuss several Bayesian interpretations, and argue that they cannot fully explain these results. Coarse thinking, selective attention, and persuasion bias are broadly consistent with the evidence.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics in its series Trinity Economics Papers with number tep0412.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tcd:tcduee:tep0412

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Postal: Trinity College, Dublin 2
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Related research

Keywords: media bias; elections; voting behavior;

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References

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  1. Harrison Hong & Marcin Kacperczyk, 2010. "Competition and Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1683-1725, November.
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  12. Ruben Durante & Brian Knight, 2009. "Partisan Control, Media Bias, and Viewer Responses: Evidence from Berlusconi's Italy," NBER Working Papers 14762, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Larcinese, Valentino & Puglisi, Riccardo & Snyder Jr., James M., 2011. "Partisan bias in economic news: Evidence on the agenda-setting behavior of U.S. newspapers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9-10), pages 1178-1189, October.
  14. Simon P. Anderson & John McLaren, 2012. "Media Mergers And Media Bias With Rational Consumers," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 831-859, 08.
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Cited by:
  1. Andrea Tesei & Paolo Pinotti & Ruben Durante, 2013. "Voting Alone? The Political and Cultural Consequences of Commercial TV," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2013-10, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.

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