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Content Competition in TV News Shows

A Comparative Analysis of Public Service Broadcast and Commercial TV News shows
from Germany, Switzerland, the UK, the United States, South Africa
and Arab Satellite TV

Paper presented to the RIPE@2006 Conference
Amsterdam/Hilversum, November 24-26th 2006

Dr. Christian Kolmer M.A.
MEDIA TENOR Deutschland GmbH
Am Kurpark 7
53173 Bonn
Deutschland

FAX: 0228 – 9 34 44 – 93
E-mail: c.kolmer@mediatenor.de

1. Introduction: Do TV news shows compete for audience?

Private TV stations compete for advertising revenue by offering airtime to corporate

clients. Competition takes place on several levels, ranging from the program structure in terms

of different genres as well as of weekly and intra-daily timing to the content structures of

single programs and the presentation styles. Programming has evolved over time, changing

from the strategy of addressing audiences as large as possible to the differentiated targeting of

selected parts of the audience, separated by their demographic structure and consumer

behavior. Audience research, offering concise insight into the preferences of various publics,

has become the main tool for programming.1

Public service broadcasters (PSB), although only partly dependent on advertising revenue,

have not escaped this development. On the contrary, in some countries, for instance in

Germany, the introduction of private TV programs has resulted in notable competition

between private and public broadcasters, involving entertainment and information programs

as well. Public service broadcasters have reacted to the threat from private competition by

highlighting their information competence. This approach is related to two different

arguments: On one hand, TV stations aspire to tie potential viewers to their program. Viewers

starting their TV session with the news on one channel might be enticed to stay on this

program for the rest of the evening. This strategy has been invalidated by emergence of

“zapping” show, but nevertheless main evening news with a strong audience might yield

some advantage in competition for the subsequent airtime. Consequently, strategic program

marketing can be at least observed in news shows,2 for instance on Germany’s main evening

1
Wehmeier, Stefan. Fernsehen im Wandel, Konstanz 1998, p. 184ff.
2
Weinacht, S., Kähne, C. & Schmittfull, H.: Stell Dir vor, es gibt Synergiemöglichkeiten und keiner nutzt sie.
Empirische Untersuchungen zum Einfluss der Medienunternehmen auf die Thematisierung von Medien. Poster
präsentiert auf der Jahrestagung "Medien in der Marktwirtschaft. Wie Wirtschaft die öffentliche Kommunikation
und öffentliche Kommunikation die Wirtschaft prägt" der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Publizistik und
Kommunikationswissenschaft am 18. und 19. Juni 2006 in Dresden.

2

the anchormen of ARD’s Tagesthemen news magazine retired this summer. The process of change in program structures and content has been discussed under the term of “convergence”. 3 . public service broadcasters are bound to maintain and emphasize their information competence in order to meet their public commission. This strategy remains as valid as in the 1990s: When Ulrich Wickert.S. encompassing general reception. So called “news magazines”. 238 WDR (1991) 4 Krüger. BVerfGE 74. 83-96. Entstehung und Gehalt einer Hypothese. In Germany. Udo Michael: Zur Konvergenz öffentlich-rechtlicher und privater Fernsehprogramme. 297 Baden-Württemberg (1987). dispensed with the classic news reader by introducing an American type “anchorman”.news show ARD Tagesschau. the emergence of private TV had a marked impact on the style and content of TV news. news formats. BVerfGE 83. 118 Niedersachsen (1986). this change was marketed offensively both within the program as well as in numerous print publications. By allocating resources and promotion especially to these programs. plurality and diversity of opinion as well as the satisfaction of the information necessities of the public. taking some cues from U. indicating an adaptation of public TV programs to the model of their private competitors. broadcast later in the evening. Rundfunk und Fernsehen 1/1991.3 Maintaining a high quality standard in its information programs therefore is of utmost importance for public service broadcasters. demonstrating their raison d’être in the long run as well as the entitlement to the license fee in the short view. 3 BVerfGE 73. references to the talk program Sabine Christiansen are broadcast in every Sunday issue. p. On the other hand. German law for example mandates public TV stations to assure the basic supply of information services to society.4 Additionally public TV in Germany reacted to the “threat” from private competition with the import of new types of news programming. public TV stations aimed at underpinning their claimed “information competence”.

4 . Reynolds. 6 E. but also the different requirements of particular audiences. 50-74. Recently the evolvement of new internet-based media has markedly broadened the scope of potential competition to Public Service Broadcasting. 8 Krüger. 9 Postman.5 Mainstream media.8 Nevertheless.7 From this presumption. ZDF with its claim “Mit dem Zweiten sieht man besser” [A better view with the second program]. New York 1985. 15. 5 This has been especially marked for web logs. ARD Jahrbuch 2005. p. the director of NDR. cf. Nashville/TN 2006. and Other Goliaths. ARD accordingly has demonstrated its reclaimed superiority in several studies.g. RTL und SAT. Udo-Michael: Fernsehnachrichten bei ARD. 15-22. Themen und Akteure: Jahresbilanz 2005 des InfoMonitors. p. Neil: Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. Some of these news genres and structures have been perceived as superior alternatives to PSB. which has changed its meaning from a threat to democracy into to the adequate program format for the 21st century. private TV rejects part of this claim with reference to the wishes of the audience. Big Government. encompassing audience research as well as analyses of the overall program structure and the content of the news shows. The debate involves not only the definition of “information programs”. Glenn: An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media. 7 Plog. the station responsible for the main news of ARD.9 Public service broadcasters recently had to cope with rising costs.6 Germany’s first program. concludes that emphasizing this surplus is of crucial importance for the legitimation of public service broadcasting in Germany.1: Strukturen. Baden-Baden 2005. including private and public broadcasters have reacted to this development in several ways. MediaPerspektiven 2/2006. ranging from the adoption of new channels and multimedia features to classic marketing campaigns. not only for the production of fiction programs but also in the area of information and news programs. p. The competition between public and private broadcasters has among other developments given rise to the phenomenon of “infotainment”. has stuck to its strategy of quality leadership and claims to be a producer of “prized and valuable programs – a surplus for society”. ranging from live-streams to web logs. ZDF. Jobst: Mehr Wert für Alle. ARD.

de/intern/basisdaten/fernsehnutzung/zuschauer_20und_20marktanteile_20der_20fernsehna/- /id=55062/1a2pojg/index. ARD addresses the competition with other media consistently. as for example the private TV news named above. SAT.faz. the design of the news show and the role of the presenters. 11 Paterson. affecting among others the use of film reports.html 13 http://www.html 5 .13 Analysis of competition between different channels is complicated by the diachronity of the news shows. whose market share decreased slightly from 6. while at the same time. 10 For the cost constraints of public service broadcasters in Germany: Kommission zur Ermittlung des Finanzbedarfs der Rundfunkanstalten: 15. the time of Tagesschau.12 Despite the marked differences between public and private TV broadcasters in terms of program structure and news content. In 2006.11 to 5.1 and ProSieben News could increase their audience. This is not without reason. competition seems to continue to be an important element of programming. Bericht. In its 2005 year book.ard.net/s/RubF7538E273FAA4006925CC36BB8AFE338/ Doc~E9FCD0770B3E64A8EB8AC128A8737B45C~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent. Chris: News Agency Dominance in International News on the Internet. at least in Germany. The impact of competitive thinking has also been evident in stylistic changes in the public news programs.10 The role of international TV news agencies has grown accordingly.9% from 2003 to 2004. changing from a sitting newsreader to a standing speaker. are not broadcast at 20:00.Maintaining own correspondents in many international locations has become very expensive. Papers in International and Global Communication 1/2006.11 The effect of financial constraints is for instance visible in shrinking time budget for current affairs programs in the ARD TV channels. and thus do not compete head-on with ARD. even Tagesschau went out of its traditional way. Mainz 2005. 12 http://www. for instance of ARD’s flagship Tagesschau. because demographic change and structural evolution of the media system continuously reduce the audience of public TV news. one chapter even sports the heading “Respect the dignity of the individual in a competitive situation”.

6 .14 This study examines this thesis on a national level looking at private and public TV over time. Wolfgang & Büttner. Publizistik 50 (1/2005). South Africa and of Arab satellite TV. the other countries named above have been introduced 14 Donsbach. 1990 und 1998. While data collection started in Germany in August 1994 and has been continued to the present. The analysis is based on the continuous content analysis of news programs in Germany. Karin: Boulevardisierungstrends in deutschen Fernsehnachrichten. as well as in an international comparative perspective. Study Design The relevance of previous research has been restricted by the incongruous and insufficient data basis. public vs. the United States.e. Darstel- lungsmerkmale der Politikberichterstattung vor den Bundestagswahlen 1983. the United Kingdom. p. private TV  the chosen format of the news program  the national framework of news programming (legal. The paper refers to the continuous content analysis of the main evening news of two public and three private TV programs conducted by the Media Tenor research institute starting in summer 1994 and continued until the present. i.2. Switzerland. political and economic structures) This paper examines the impact of the changing media environment on the style and content of the information flagships of PSB and commercial TV stations. News selection in TV programming is to a certain extent different from the process in other media – especially in the daily newspapers. Nevertheless recent research found indicators for a process of “tabloidization” of TV news. in most cases consisting of only small samples of single weeks per year. namely the prime time evening news. It therefore combines a long-time comparison of public and private TV in Germany with a cross-country approach for the year 2006. A meaningful comparison of news structures between TV and print media should take account of three criteria:  the ownership structure. 21-38.

1 News (Private TV / News show) ProSieben Newstime (Private TV / News show) ARD Tagesthemen (Public TV / News magazine) ZDF heute journal (Public TV / News magazine) CH SF DRS Tagesschau (Public TV / News show) UK BBC 1 News (18:00) (Public TV / News show) BBC 1 Ten o'clock News (Public TV / News show) ITV Evening News (Private TV / News show) ITV News at 10:30 (Private TV / News show) BBC 2 Newsnight (Public TV / News magazine) USA NBC (Private TV / News show) ABC (Private TV / News show) CBS (Private TV / News show) Fox (Private TV / News show) Arab TV Al-Arabiyah (Dubai) (Private TV / News show) Nile News (Egypt) (Public TV / News show) Al Alam (Iran) (Public TV / News show) LBC (Lebanon) (Private TV / News show) Al Manar (Lebanon) (Private TV / News show) Al-Ikhbariyah (Saudi Arabia) (Public TV / News show) Al Jazeera (Quatar) (Private TV / News show) 7 . 3.944 stories in 32 news shows or news magazines: Germany ARD Tagesschau (Public TV / News show) ZDF heute (19:00) (Public TV / News show) RTL Aktuell (Private TV / News show) SAT.consecutively. Methodology For the period of January to August 2006 this study draws on the comprehensive content analysis of a total 150. Presentation styles. topic and protagonist structures are analyzed on the story level. examining the tone and topic structure in business coverage. Framing of news is additionally taken into account.

a change from newsreader to film report constitutes a news story.15 News stories are defined by their style.000 topics organized in a hierarchy of issues. public TV / News show) E-TV (Private TV / News show) For the long-time analysis 471. e. public TV / News show) SABC 1 News (Sotho. SAT. Quality control is maintained by regular reliability tests and ongoing spot checks. p.1 News/18:30 and ProSieben Newstime have been analyzed from January 1999 to August 2005. the reporting about all companies has been examined on the story level: Reporting about all companies and management persons. For the analysis of business reporting.8% in August 2006. even if both entities deal with the same content matter. The analysis of topic structures on the story level concerning the main topic of story the codebook at present provides for more than 3. ZDF heute journal and heute (19:00).712 news stories from ARD Tagesthemen and Tagesschau. RSA SABC 2 News (Afrikaans. 2. Overall agreement between coders and pattern solutions in August 2006 equaled 88. which are working for MEDIA TENOR on permanent basis. public TV / News show) SABC 3 News (English. 8 . public TV / News show) SABC 1 News (Zulu/Xhosa. which were presented or described for at least five seconds. The content of the news stories has been analyzed on story level by the means of a systematic content analysis by trained coders. RTL Aktuell. has been analyzed in terms of tone and topic structure. 15 MEDIA TENOR 156.g.

1. old age provision. Topic Structures in German TV – Long-time Comparison The overview of the topic structure reveals marked differences between public and private programs. 01/2001 – 08/2005 Chart 1: Topic structure in German TV news Values/Ideologies Party politics Crime Terrorism/Domestic security Domestic policy Foreign affairs International conflicts/War Economy/Public Policy Business Social affairs Culture Energy/Traffic/Science History Sports Human interests/Accidents other topics 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% PSB magazines PSB news Private news Basis: 250. In all of these fields. housing and healthcare –.210 news stories in 7 German TV news programs. 01/2001 – 08/2005 While PSB news dedicates a high share of its reporting to political issues – ranging from party politics over domestic policy and economic policy to foreign affairs including reporting about the ongoing international conflicts. The topic structure of private TV news confirms to the results of previous research: Non-political crime. In social affairs – social security. private TV news show display notably less reporting. culture and energy policy. accidents. Share of all stories in 7 German TV news programs. Results 4. whereas the distinctions between news shows and news magazines for ARD and ZDF are confined to few fields of content matter (chart 1). transport and science the differences are less marked. especially in the Middle East.4. natural disasters and human interest news account for a big 9 .

Krüger (2006). are especially dedicated to political reporting. Summing up.5 and 18.tagesschau. these differences indicate a diverse orientation of public and private stations.6% of all news stories respectively. 51ff. cf. Another focus of the news magazines lies on business reports that account for more than 12% of the newscast.html. with 17. Sports news on the other hand. 51ff. In order to make a meaningful comparison over time. with the share of political news approaching 50%. Routine procedures of news production lead to political reporting along the lines of party orientation: Party politics proper accordingly accounts for almost 10% of all stories in the news magazines. namely reporting about international conflicts and terrorism – issues that affect both types of programs and disrupt routine structures of 16 Krüger (2006). another main ingredient of “infotainment” contributes to a comparable share of reporting in PSB and private news shows. which declaredly aim to present background information. getting more reporting than either domestic policy or economic policy. by the means of supervisory boards that are dominated by representatives of social interest groups more or less affiliated to the leading German parties. The news magazines. business reporting and party politics. p. A third dimension relates to a dominating element of TV news. part of the newscast. 10 . looking at the thematic preferences of public and private programs. 17 http://intern. the main topic fields have been arranged in three dimensions. targeting different audiences.16 Differences between the PSB early evening news shows and the news magazines broadcast later in the evening related mainly to two field. Nevertheless competition is possible in such an environment and can only be observed over time. p.17 This dominance reflects the integration of Germany’s public service broadcasters into the political system.de/flash/index.

while at the same time giving rise to new routines. Sports. 01/2001 – 08/2005 Chart 2: Visibility of the “Infotainment”. Germany 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 PSB magazines PSB news Private news Basis: 250. Domestic Policy. The 16 thematic fields detailed in chart 1 are arrange in the following three dimensions:  “Infotainment”: Non-political crime.reporting. International Conflicts/War Looking at the salience of each of these three dimensions shows only few instances of “convergence” between public and private programs. Global changes in the topic structure affect the programs in different ways in regard to the three dimensions selected for analysis. Human Interest/Accidents/Natural Disasters  “Politics”: Party Politics.210 news stories in 7 German TV news programs. Social Affairs  “War Terrorism”: Terrorism/Domestic Security. The share of “infotainment” for instance did not change in a marked way in the public programs since 2001 (chart 2). exceeding a ceiling of 30% only in 2002. 01/2001 – 08/2005 11 . the year when Share of all stories in 7 German TV news programs. Economy/Public Policy.

1 from soccer reporting for financial reasons. 01/2001 – 08/2005 Chart 3: Visibility of sports stories in German TV news 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 PSB magazines PSB news Private news Basis: 250. Sports news on the other hand shows a different pattern over time (chart 3). Reporting about crime and accidents seems to have reached a plateau level. Share of all stories in 7 German TV news programs.1 had obviously less incentives for cross- promotion in the evening news. controlled by routine procedures that provide for a constant selection from the worldwide flow of suitable events. while the share remained rather stable in the following years. reflecting the pullout of SAT. 2003 too marked the high point of “infotainment” in private TV news. With the discontinuation of its dominant national sports program. From 2002 to 2003 the share of sports reports in private TV news dropped notably. SAT. differences between the two groups remained rather stable in the field of “war/terrorism”. Global changes of the intensity of 12 . floods in Eastern Germany even overshadowed the campaign for the federal elections in Germany.210 news stories in 7 German TV news programs. 01/2001 – 08/2005 While the special field of sports reporting in the evening news thus shows sort of convergence between public and private programs.

economy/public policy and social affairs increased for more than 6% between 2001 and 2005 in private TV news (chart 5). The overall share of visual news 13 . While party politics proper remained a domain of the public broadcasters. reporting about political issues involving additionally domestic policy.reporting relate primarily to global events. Share of all stories in 7 German TV news programs. the Iraq war of 2003. The growing sense of crisis in Germany on the other hand seems to have contributed to a tangible increase in political reporting in a broader sense.g. 01/2001 – 08/2005 Private TV news consistently dedicated about 6% points less of its newscast to reports from the hot spots of international politics.210 news stories in 7 German TV news programs. The rather unobtrusive changes in terms of content between 2001 and 2005 suggest a stable situation in the competition between public and private news. Germany 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 PSB magazines PSB news Private news Basis: 250. This view is corroborated by the observation of stylistic differences. 01/2001 – 08/2005 Chart 4: Visibility of “War/Terrorism” dimension. e. that was preceded by an unparalleled build-up of media resources in the theatre of war (chart 4).

01/2001 – 08/2005 with film reports or life talks to correspondents on the ground increased in all three groups of programs analyzed. private TV led in this development. 01/1999 – 08/2005 14 . 01/2001 – 08/2005 Chart 5: Visibility of the “Politics” dimension. while public broadcasters reacted with a marked time lag. Share of all stories in 7 German TV news programs. German TV 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 PSB magazines PSB news Private news Basis: 250.210 news stories in 7 German TV news programs. Nevertheless.712 news stories in 7 German TV news programs. 08/1994 – 08/2005 Chart 6: Share of news stories with filmed content 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 PSB magazines PSB news Private news Basis: 471. Share of all stories in 7 German TV news programs.

over the long run. especially in the context 15 .7% and 50. Foreign News in German TV TV news from abroad account for nearly half of the newscast in all three types of news programs analyzed (chart 7). The differences between public TV news magazines and news shows on one hand and private TV news shows on the other hand are marginal. variance in public TV programs was notably higher.4. Taking into account the topic structure of foreign news. two models of foreign news selection emerge: While private TV stations select foreign news on the merit of their sensational value. that reflects rather accurately the pattern of domestic news (chart 9). Share of all stories in 7 German TV news programs. 01/2001 – 08/2005 Chart 7: Share of foreign news in German TV Public TV: News Magazines Public TV: News Shows Private TV: News Shows 47.9% 47. 44. some differences can be observed.9% in the case of the news magazines (chart 8).7% and 50.2% 51.2% Domestic news Foreign news Basis: 250. public TV reflects the political agenda. fluctuating between 46. These differences can be probably traced back to a different role of foreign news in public and private TV.210 news stories in 7 German TV news programs. In so far foreign policy – including international conflicts – was of notable importance in the political discussion in Germany.8% 48. Nevertheless.7%. 01/2001 – 08/2005 Whereas in private news the share of foreign news was rather stable over time.8% 52.2.1% 52.

played itself out in a notably higher share of foreign news coverage in 2004. 01/2001 – 08/2005 Chart 8: Share of foreign news in German TV 60% 55% 50% 45% 40% 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 PSB magazines PSB news Private news Basis: 250. public TV follows the political agenda much more closely. several factors influencing the news structures of public and private TV emerges. Both groups are affected by developments in the “real” world in a different way: While private TV reproduces a certain amount of “infotainment” in an ongoing way.210 news stories in 7 German TV news programs. 01/2001 – 08/2005 of the 2003 war in Iraq. the preoccupation with the situation in Iraq. While the 2002 election caused a notable drop in the visibility of foreign news. Both types of programs therefore select and interpret foreign news from a domestic point of view. caused by the political debate about Germany’s position towards the United States. activities of the political protagonists were followed closely by public news. leading to a rather constrained view of the outside world. Share of all stories in 7 German TV news programs. Summing up. 16 .

The different forms of presenting issues to the public can be explained by the theory of framing.4% of their newscast to reporting about companies – which significantly is less than the share of sports news –. Public Opinion. 18 Entman.644 news stories in 7 German TV news programs. the three types of news programs differ in marked way in terms of their topic structure (chart 10). Although the sphere of business is of utmost importance for our societies.S. and U.4% and 9. Nevertheless. business coverage is of minor importance for TV news. 01/2001 – 08/2005 Chart 9: Topic structure of foreign news in German TV Values/Ideologies Party politics Crime Terrorism/Domestic security Domestic policy Foreign affairs International conflicts/War Economy/Public Policy Business Social affairs Culture Energy/Traffic/Science History Sports Human interests/Accidents other topics 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% PSB magazines PSB news Private news Basis: 120. Framing News: Business Coverage in Germany While news selection is the first step in news production. While public TV magazines devote about 12. Foreign Policy. Robert: Projections of Power : Framing News. composition and presentation affect the news flow in a comparable way. Chicago Press 2004. 17 . Share of all stories in 7 German TV news programs.18 Originating in the analysis of political discussion. public and private TV news shows set aside 8.3.6% respectively of all stories for business reports. the concept can also be applied to other fields of reporting. 01/2001 – 08/2005 4.

Corporate Culture Innovation Owners Other Topics 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% PSB magazines PSB news Private news Basis: 108. they stress different aspects. industries. German TV Stock Price Ratings Politics/Society E-Commerce R&D Management History Image Globalization Investments Clients/Customers Business Results Market Position Personnel/HR Wages Products/Services Production Business Strategy Environmental Pol. 01/1999 – 08/2005 Chart 10: Topic structure of business news.de: RTL News-Infotainment & TV-Magazine http://www. Framing of business has undergone notable changes in the last years.rtl-television.461 reports (at least 5 seconds) about companies. While the euphoria for the “new economy” drove reporting about share prices quickly 19 RTL-Television. While the news magazines display a focus on the stock market. private TV news sticks to its maxim of “news to use”. Public TV news on the other hand frame their business reporting in a political context: Regulation and litigation issues as well as the social impact of business activities are the second most important issue in ARD Tagesschau and ZDF heute. the boom and bust of the stock markets at the beginning of the decade is well reflected in the visibility of reports focusing on the performance of companies’ shares in the public TV news magazines (chart 11). While the differences in the overall program structure have been rather slight.html 18 .19 Coverage of products accounts for nearly 1/3 of all reports about companies. managers.de/3222. business associations in 7 German TV news Although all types of programs fail to give a comprehensive picture of business activities. Share of all reports about companies in 7 German TV news programs.

19 . unusual events. with more than ¼ of all reports focusing on the stock market. Whereas the share of product coverage has not exceeded 20% in any year for public TV news. Under such circumstances the great marketing events. the TV news shows did not develop regular business reporting at all.to an unprecedented high. private TV has aspired to extend its lead over the public competition. On the other hand.461 reports (at least 5 seconds) about companies. Share of all reports about companies in 7 German TV news programs. the decline of the bourses was followed with a marked lag. scandals and court cases account for a notable share of business coverage in the main evening news (chart 13). business associations in 7 German TV news Private and public TV news on the other hand did not address share prices in a meaningful way at all. subordinating economic criteria to the rule of news values. 01/1999 – 08/2005 Chart 11: Share of news stories referring to the share price 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 PSB magazines PSB news Private news Basis: 108. like accidents. industries. private news boosted its share of product-related reports from about 28% in 1999 to more than 35% in 2005. In this field. continuing with this routine in times of decreasing public interest into the stock market. managers. like the motor shows and industrial fairs receive high awareness. driving product coverage even in public TV news to a significant share (chart 12). While the news magazines introduced reporting about the winners and losers of the day.

This impression is corroborated by the exceedingly critical tone of business reporting in all three types of media outlets analyzed (chart 14). http://www. managers. is evident in the constantly high share of “scandal” news. MDR. 01/1999 – 08/2005 Chart 12: Share of news stories referring to products 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 PSB magazines PSB news Private news Basis: 108.html 20 . other reasons can be taken into account.461 reports (at least 5 seconds) about companies. for instance aspects of marketing on the side of the private programs.de/presse/unternehmen/2058401. the public broadcaster MDR. in contrast to a news structure based on the logic of economy.mdr.20 In respect of business news focusing on scandals and accidents. industries. dismissed an editor for his involvement into a product placement scandal. 20 In July 2007. The intensified debate about product placement might give some clue to this interpretation. In so far the PSB did not strengthen their product focus. business associations in 7 German TV news The growing gap between private and public TV news raises doubts about the role of competition in this development.de: Wilfried Mohren fristlos entlassen. differences between public and private TV news shows have declined since 1999. The influence of routine processes on news selection in the field of business reporting. an affiliate of ARD. Share of all reports about companies in 7 German TV news programs.

business associations in 7 German TV news In private and public TV news as well as in the news magazines.5% 34. managers. business associations in 7 German TV news 21 . the share of negative reports has approximated 1/3 over the last 6 years. On the other hand.3% 44. 01/1999 – 08/2005 Chart 14: Rating of companies in German TV news Public TV: News Magazines Public TV: News Shows Private TV: News Shows 14. industries. managers.4% 45. industries.2% 32.1% at the most. positive reports have only made up 22. Share of all reports about companies in 7 German TV news programs.461 reports (at least 5 seconds) about companies. Share of all reports about companies in 7 German TV news programs. 01/1999 – 08/2005 Chart 13: Share of news stories referring image/scandals 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 PSB magazines PSB news Private news Basis: 108.4% 51.5% 22.5% negative no clear rating positive Basis: 108.1% 33.1% 22.461 reports (at least 5 seconds) about companies.

reporting has been less negative in the public TV magazines since 2003.25 -0. International TV news differ from another in much stronger ways than national programs (chart 16).05 -0. the influence of national and cultural factors on news selection and framing can be examined in a wider perspective.461 reports (at least 5 seconds) about companies. Average rating (-1/+1) of companies in 7 German TV news programs. Summing up. focusing on different publics. that affect both and public and private news programs. 4.15 -0.10 -0. the framing of business reports provides further evidence to the assumption. managers. industries. Despite marked differences in the topic structure. 22 .20 -0.00 -0. 01/1999 – 08/2005 Chart 15: Rating of companies in German TV news 0. business associations in 7 German TV news While public TV on one hand followed the downturn of the markets in 2002 in more pronounced way. a critical attitude has thus been the hallmark of business coverage in TV news. The aggregate view masks some notable differences between public and private TV programs (chart 15). that content competition between public and private TV news is based on a differentiated approach. Topic Structures in International Comparison The analysis of German TV news over times has shown the impact of several external factors.4. In an international comparison.30 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 PSB magazines PSB news Private news Basis: 108.

01 – 08/2006 For this comparison the relative positions the public and private TV programs from six countries or regions have been plotted along the lines of the three dimensions developed in chapter 4. comparing the relative weight of “infotainment” and “politics” in the international perspective. “politics” 35% US networks 30% UK public 25% German public SA public UK private Arab public Swiss (public) German private 20% Politics Arab private SA private 15% 10% 5% 0% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 50% Infotainment Basis: 150.944 news stories in 32 international TV news programs.21 Private TV news differs much stronger from another in terms of “politics” than public news. 01/ – 08/2006 Chart 16: “Infotainment” vs. The share of “politics” coverage was higher for British news both in the private and the public programs – which is probably due to the intensifying crisis of the government of Tony Blair. (cf. Nevertheless four groups of news shows can be traced in the first plot.S. network news. The results of this comparison are restricted in their generalizability by the absence of public TV news from the US and of private news from Switzerland. programs.S. 23 . 21 One reason for this observation is the transfer of sports news into a separate section. page 11). While private news in the UK. this does not hold true for the private U. in Germany and South Africa display a much higher share of “entertainment” than their public counterparts. separated from the general newscast in U.1. Share of all stories in 32 international TV news programs.

with only South African E-TV news being even less politicized. In all respects. On the other South African public and private programs show very little interest in these issues. Arab satellite TV occupies a totally different place in regard both of elements of “infotainment” as of “politics”.S. although both of these countries are involved strongly in the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. or the UK. But more important: Arab private and public programs differ only slightly from another in both dimensions. while the German and Swiss programs take the middle road. Share of all stories in 32 international TV news programs. 01 – 08/2006 Arab TV is focused on the regional conflicts: Reporting about war and terrorism accounts for about 40% of all reports. 24 . Both dimensions play a much lower role in their news structure. This is notably higher than reporting in the U. “war/terrorism” 50% 45% Arab private 40% Arab public 35% 30% War/Terrorism US networks 25% UK public 20% German public UK private 15% German private 10% Swiss (public) SA private 5% SA public 0% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 50% Infotainment Basis: 150. public and private programs in Europe seem to cater for different preferences. display quite marked differences in their program structure (chart 18) – with the exception of Arab satellite TV. While this indicates that all of them target the same audience.944 news stories in 32 international TV news programs. 01/ – 08/2006 Chart 17: “Infotainment” vs. private and public TV in various countries. which are affected rather differently by the international conflicts dominating foreign news.

01 – 08/2006 Summing up the evidence from the international comparison. the UK and Switzerland are not competing for the same audiences in terms of news content.944 news stories in 32 international TV news programs. like natural events or the development of the stock markets at some times exert a stronger influence on news structures than the ownership of the media outlet. although sports news plays a comparable role in public and private programs. 25 . private news provides a continuous flow of “infotainment”. Discussion Contrary to expectations formed by the statements of the broadcasters. there is some evidence that public and private TV stations in Germany. While public TV emphasizes the political dimension. “politics” 45% Arab private 40% Arab public 35% 30% US networks 25% Politics UK public 20% German public UK private 15% Swiss (public) 10% German private SA private 5% SA public 0% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% War/Terrorism Basis: 150. framing events from political perspective. Overall convergence of programs has not accelerated in Germany during the last five years. 01/ – 08/2006 Chart 18: “War/terrorism” vs. that content competition is not very acute for the last years. 5. public and private news programs occupy different locations in the topic space. With the exception of Arab satellite TV. Share of all stories in 32 international TV news programs. the results of this analysis suggest. External factors.

that public and private programs for the time being do not compete head-to-head in their news programs. the long-time perspective is problematic. Much to the contrary. In the same way. the dominance of the party-political perspective complicates the information about policy issues in a marked way. While the results of this analysis suggest. Three aspects can be discussed in this context: Firstly.22 preoccupation with party politics obstructs 22 Patterson. New York 1993 26 . this does not imply that public TV news is of high quality per se. comparing public and private news for shorter intervals. the viewer potential for public TV news will continue to shrink – further endangering the financial potential of public broadcasters and therefore eventually the program quality. Although private news is no threat to public news in terms of quality of content. The overall explanative power of this analysis is to some extent limited by the absence of either public or private news from some countries and the shorter timeframe for the international comparison. While different perspectives. the similarity of tone shows. as the “game frame” in political coverage distorts reporting about election campaigns. probably months or even weeks. the competitive rhetoric of public broadcasters is primarily indicative of the perceived threats from new media and increasing financial constraints. demonstrate that TV stations have some scope to differentiate their program. for instance in business coverage. With demographic change and the evolution of new media. Thomas E.: Out of Order. For Germany. might show stronger interaction between the competitors and thus yield a stronger indication of competition in terms of news content. that classic awareness rules and “news values” have a strong impact on news selection in TV media.

this lack of competition in foreign news coverage. that undermine the concept of classical mass media. might be the most distressing result of this analysis. podcasts and other channels. giving prominence to weblogs. Nevertheless. engendered by their private competitors. Thirdly the long-time comparison for Germany suggests that on one hand public broadcasters remain under some pressure to adapt their news programs to the accelerating trend for “infotainment”. On the other hand the growing share of “tabloid” style news is to a certain extent limited by the traditional influence of the leading political parties in Germany. the reverse flow from web based media into TV broadcast has not yet materialized. maintaining a greater awareness of party political news in public TV news. the trend towards sensational news is especially severe in respect to foreign coverage. this has not yet led to notable changes in the topic structure of the main evening news. foreign news is determined by the supply of suitable footage. vastly reducing the amount of background information from abroad. 27 .reporting about relevant issues. in so far discussion about political solutions is virtually absent from this reporting. Although the evolution of new media has accelerated in the last years. With regard of the restricted personal experience of the public of foreign countries. Quality of news reporting should be measured with regard to general criteria and not with reference to a perceived competitor. While broadcasters embrace new channels as outlets for their editorial content. in order to retain their audience share against the background of changing demographics and patterns of media use. While domestic news is controlled by the TV stations. and thus eventually by the decisions of international TV news agencies and their business rationale. One could argue that the massive flow of footage from the ongoing carnage in Iraq and Palestine is primarily “infotainment”.

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