A8 – Structural Changes in Media and Attitude Polarization: Examining the Contributions of TV News Before and After the Telecommunications Act of 1996

DOI: 10.1093/ijpor/edv012

Citation: Hmielowski, J. D., Beam, M. A., & Hutchens, M. J. (2016). Structural changes in media and attitude polarization: Examining the contributions of TV news before and after the Telecommunications Act of 1996. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 28(2), 153-172.

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Recent studies have shown evidence of increasing levels of attitude polarization in the United States. This study adds to this line of inquiry by examining whether important structural changes to the media system in 1996, which included the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the introduction of Fox News, affected TV news’ contribution to affective polarization. Using the American National Election Studies (ANES) cumulative data file, we test the media’s contribution to affective polarization before and after 1996 using spline regression. Our results show an increase in affective polarization over time, with greater increases after 1996. In addition, we show that after 1996, TV news use contributes to increasing levels of affective polarization in the United States.

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