Broadcasting rights and the business behind network news: a content analysis of television news coverage of the 2008 Olympic Games
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Broadcasting rights are a multi-million dollar investment made by a television network to secure exclusive rights to a sports or entertainment event. This study examined whether the acquisition of these rights impacts television news network's coverage of the event by comparing ABC, CBS and NBC's evening news coverage of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. NBC owned the exclusive broadcasting rights to the 2008 Summer Olympics. Four variables (frequency, total run time, tone, and the predominant media frame) were measured by conducting a content analysis of television news rundowns and transcripts from August 2008. The results showed that NBC broadcast more than twice as many Olympic-related stories and devoted more than twice as much time to Olympic-related stories as ABC and CBS combined. The study found no evidence that NBC broadcast proportionally more positively toned stories about the Olympics than ABC and CBS. In addition, the study revealed that the three networks framed the games predominantly through the human interest frame, choosing to highlight the achievements of athletes such as Michael Phelps, more than the controversies surrounding the games such as China's poor environmental and human rights record. These results suggested that NBC's financial investment led to the network's self-promotion of the Olympics through its news division -- a practice which questions whether journalistic principles can be maintained when facing the corporate pressures from the business side of media. However, despite significant differences in the amount of coverage, the tone and predominant media frames of NBC's reporting did not differ from their competitors.
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