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

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  • Caitlin Knowles Myers

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Abstract

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 onair 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

  • Caitlin Knowles Myers, 2005. "Discrimination as a Competitive Device: The Case of Local Television News," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0526, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:0526
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    File URL: http://www.middlebury.edu/services/econ/repec/mdl/ancoec/0526.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Matthew Parrett, 2011. "Customer Discrimination in Restaurants: Dining Frequency Matters," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 87-112, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Friebel, Guido & Heinz, Matthias, 2014. "Media slant against foreign owners: Downsizing," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 97-106.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    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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