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SELECTIVE EXPOSURE TO TELEVISION: PREDICTING INHERITANCE EFFECTS FROM VCR AND CABLE PENETRATION Douglas A. Ferguson A Dissertation Submitted to the Graduate College of Bowling Green State University in partial fulfiliment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY May 1990 Approved by Doctoral Committee: © 2890 Douglas Alan Ferguson All Rights Reserved sai ABSTRACT The major assumption of this study was that strong inheritance effects between pairs of television programs represent: (1) low selectivity, (2) a passive audience, and (3) high viewer inertia. The majoz hypothesis of this dissertation was that the new media environment enhances selective exposure to television as reflected by weak inheritance effects. This study attempted to determine which variables predict inheritance effects, what strength each predictor exerted, and the izection of the prediction. The direction was more important than strength because it reflects the impact of new media environment variables. Negative beta weights on the predictor variables were expected to show that media diversity leads to more selectivity. Main effects and interaction effects both were analyzed. ‘The dependent variable was the inheritance effect of four types of prime time programs: situation comedy, dramz, news/information/talk, and quiz/game. The unit of analysis was the television market as designated by Arbitron and Nielsen (N=212 and 210, respectively). The independent variables for each market included: VCR penetration, cable Penetration, the number of television stations, the number of independent (non-network) television stations, and market size. The four most popular shows of their genre were measured: The Cosby Show, Murder She Wrote, 60 Minutes, and the syndicated Wheel of Fortune. An inheritance score was calculated by dividing the share of the lead-out Program by the share of the lead-in show and multiplying by 100. Ratios above 1.0 were not permitted; scores ranged from 0 to 100. Data were gathered for a one year period encompassing four rating periods: May 1988, July 1988, Novenber 1988, and February 1969.