The Electronic Election: Perspectives on the 1996 Campaign Communication

By Lynda Lee Kaid; Dianne G. Bystrom | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 25
The American Presidential Election in International Perspective: Europeanization of the U.S. Electoral Advertising Through Free-Time Segments

Christina Holtz-Bacha

Johannes Gutenberg University

The organization of a country's broadcasting system also has implications for the development of television advertising in general and political advertising in particular. Whereas the United States has a long tradition of commercial broadcasting, most Western European countries have guarded a monopoly of public broadcasting and only opened up their markets for commercial stations during the 1980s. Therefore, advertising always played a dominant role for the financing of broadcasting in the United States. The dependence on advertising as the main or even exclusive source of income is incompatible with any restrictions that might limit the amount of advertising or its contents and, thus, influence the economic basis of the broadcasting stations. As a consequence, regulations for television advertising in the United States are kept to a minimum as compared to other countries.

In contrast, public broadcasting that dominated Western Europe for decades is mainly or exclusively financed through a fee or taxes, making television and radio more or less independent of advertising revenues. Some European countries prohibited television advertising completely and others imposed far-reaching restrictions. In Denmark and Sweden, for example, advertising was not allowed at all on television until 1987 ( Petersen & Siune, 1992; Tapper, 1992). Germany, on the other hand, although permitting 20 minutes of advertising per weekday on public television, restricted commercials to blocks between programs and did not allow advertising after 8:00 p.m. and on Sundays.

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