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Telecracy: Testing for Channels of Persuasion

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Guglielmo Barone & Francesco D'Acunto & Gaia Narciso, 2011. "Telecracy: Testing for Channels of Persuasion," Trinity Economics Papers tep0412, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tcd:tcduee:tep0412
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Samuele Poy & Simone Schüller, 2016. "Internet and Voting in the Web 2.0 Era: Evidence from a Local Broadband Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 6129, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Piolatto, Amedeo & Schuett, Florian, 2015. "Media competition and electoral politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 80-93.
    3. repec:dgr:kubcen:2013072 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Barone, Guglielmo & D'Ignazio, Alessio & de Blasio, Guido & Naticchioni, Paolo, 2016. "Mr. Rossi, Mr. Hu and politics. The role of immigration in shaping natives' voting behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 1-13.
    5. Ruben Durante & Paolo Pinotti & Andrea Tesei, 2015. "The Political Legacy of Entertainment TV," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/gjf8d7tah8a, Sciences Po.
    6. Piolatto, Amedeo & Schuett, Florian, 2015. "Media competition and electoral politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 80-93.
    7. Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Konstantin Sonin, 2018. "Social Media and Corruption," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, pages 150-174.
    8. Ruben Durante & Paolo Pinotti & Andrea Tesei, 2013. "Voting Alone? The Political and Cultural Consequences of Commercial TV," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2013-10, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    9. Ruben Durante & Paolo Pinotti & Andrea Tesei, 2014. "No News, Big News. The political consequences of entertainment TV," Working Papers 063, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    10. repec:tiu:tiucen:2013072 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Yamamura, Eiji & Sabatini, Fabio, 2015. "The impact of the media on voters’ attitude toward Junichiro Koizumi and his policy," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 34, pages 24-32.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    media bias; elections; voting behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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