Political Ads & Local TV News The Honolulu Case

Danilo Yanich, Ph.D.
Paul Ruiz
Publication Date: 

Political advertising is a structural feature of American political campaigns. That has become more prescient with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission in 2010. The vast majority of that advertising comes in the form of political ads that are shown on local television stations. In fact, in the Presidential election of 2012, local TV stations received over $2.9 billion (80%) of political ad spending. The political ads, by definition, raise questions about public issues that the candidates think will resonate with voters. Given these circumstances, an obvious question is to what extent are those public issues covered by the local news operations of the stations on which the ads appear. This study examined that question in the Honolulu, HI television market during the 2012 campaign. It extended previous analysis of the Honolulu market. Who bought the ads? What did they say? Were those issues reflected in news coverage during the campaign?