America’s main news diet: Commercial

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America is the only major democracy in the West to rely almost entirely on commercial media to comprehensively inform its citizens. So says Rodney Benson, associate professor of media, culture and communication at New York University, in the online magazine The two surveyed 14 countries; in every Western European democracy they examined, public broadcasting channels attract at least a third of the national TV audience. “Who is the average BBC watcher?” Benson says. “Everybody in Britain.”

And foreign public media stations can schedule news programming during primetime.“Whereas there’s a big different in what people know here, when you compare high and low income, high and low education, in some of these countries there’s almost no difference,” Benson says. “The value of having this kind of broad publicly oriented programming available to everyone at an accessible time, and putting a lot of resources behind that to make it available and accessible, is that citizens are better informed in those countries.”