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Discrimination as a Competitive Device: The Case of Local Television News


  • Myers, Caitlin Knowles

    () (Middlebury College)


Local news offers a unique look not only at customer preferences but also at the strategic response of firms to these preferences. This paper uses a combination of ratings data and newly gathered information on television stations in 25 U.S. markets to examine the decisions of competing firms and how customers respond to the journalists who appear on-air at the different stations in a market. The results indicate that there is a negative correlation between the racial, gender, and age composition of competing firms. Moreover, the ratings data suggest that the stations with relatively few blacks on-air are catering to the more discriminatory customers. While a similar result is found for age and gender, the reverse holds for other groups, suggesting possible tastes for diversity for Hispanics and Asians. Taken as a whole, the evidence supports a theoretical model in which firms differentiate via the characteristics of their employees in response to customer prejudice.

Suggested Citation

  • Myers, Caitlin Knowles, 2005. "Discrimination as a Competitive Device: The Case of Local Television News," IZA Discussion Papers 1802, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1802

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    Cited by:

    1. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "What Drives Media Slant? Evidence From U.S. Daily Newspapers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(1), pages 35-71, January.
    2. Melissa S. Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2015. "Media Influences on Social Outcomes: The Impact of MTV's 16 and Pregnant on Teen Childbearing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(12), pages 3597-3632, December.
    3. Friebel, Guido & Heinz, Matthias, 2014. "Media slant against foreign owners: Downsizing," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 97-106.
    4. Matthew Parrett, 2011. "Customer Discrimination in Restaurants: Dining Frequency Matters," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 87-112, June.

    More about this item


    economics of gender and minorities; customer discrimination; product differentiation; Nielsen ratings;

    JEL classification:

    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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