Television market size and political accountability in the U.S. House of Representatives

Publication Stutzer, Matter, Balles

New Publication by Alois Stutzer, Ulrich Matter, Patrick Balles in European Journal of Political Economy


This paper examines the role of local TV market structure in U.S. congressional politics, exploiting variation in the overlaps of political markets and TV markets. Local TV stations are hypothesized to report relatively more per U.S. House representative in less populous markets (where the number of House districts covered is smaller), leading to better-informed voters and more accountable representatives. We find that smaller markets are indeed associated with (i) higher coverage of representatives and (ii) a higher level of voters’ knowledge about their representatives. However, (iii) representatives of smaller and more congruent markets are only more likely to decide aligned with their constituents’ policy preferences in highly competitive districts. This evidence suggests that local political news coverage on TV serves as a complement rather than a substitute in holding members of the U.S. Congress accountable.

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