Author: Els De Bens
Most research reveals that television mainly confirms and re-inforces the existing party-preferences. Despite these findings, public opinion and especially politicians still believe in the direct effect of television on voter-decisions. Same researchers, among whom E. Noelle-Neumann, have given empirical evidence of strong influence of television on voter attitudes hut their findings have been widely contested.
In recent years the topic is approached in a different way. The role of television in election campaigns was assessed in a broader context in combination with other social factors and attention was no langer focused on the short term effect. The very high exposure to election programmes on television raises questions of motivation and use : for information, for entertainment, or as by-product of the television attachment. These different motivations imply different uses and consequently different effects, presenting a dillemma for broadcasters and politicians who have to produce programmes for all types of viewers. Many authors claim however that both broadcasters (because of ratings) and politicians (because of the increasing number of floating voters) give in to the spectacular-entertainment side: more exciting debates, more shows, more uniformization of the political message. It should be stressed however, that television being the main source of political communication in
election periods, it can also re-open the issue of participation. Reinforcement of party-preference through television viewing can have a mobilizing effect, as latent party-preference can be turned into manifest voting behaviour.
Finally the rules of the publicly controlled broadcasting institutions concerning election campaigns have undoubtedly had an institutional effect ; access and viewing-time are alloted according to the relative strength of political parties.
How to Cite: De Bens, E. (1982) “De omstreden effectwerking van TV-verkiezingsuitzendingen op kiesattitude en kiesgedrag”, Res Publica. 24(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.21825/rp.v24i1.19341