Sponsor and Channel
In any discussion of political, mass-communicated messages, we must take into account not only the content of the message and the style in which it is delivered but also the sponsor of the message and the channel in which it is disseminated. Research has shown that both sponsorship and channel conditions influence the way in which individuals interpret the political message. For this reason, we consider sponsorship and communication channels as important elements to be considered when examining negative political advertising.
A sponsor is a person or a group that pays a mass communication channel (television, radio, newspaper, magazine) to disseminate a political advertisement. In some situations, the sponsor may not have paid for the actual production of the advertisement, but is paying for the dissemination. In our analysis, the actual producer of the spot is not as important as the person or group who pays for the dissemination of the advertising, for it is only the sponsor that is identified within the political advertising content (see Disclosure Requirement section, this chapter). And, it is only the sponsor, then, that is known to the voters who have seen the advertisement. Individuals or groups who pay for the expenses associated with a direct mail campaign, a telemarketing cam-