It’s Only a Game, Let’s Leave Politics Out of It: Mega-Sporting Events, Broadcasting Rights, and Network News Bias

Catie Snow Bailard, Mark Major


The question guiding our project is whether corporations’ broadcasting rights to mega-sporting events influenced the degree of critical coverage of the events reported by their respective networks’ news divisions. The question is answered through a content analysis of NBC, ABC, and CBS evening news coverage of the men’s 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, both held in Brazil, examining the quantity and content of reports highlighting the controversial features of these two major events. The data suggest that broadcasting rights may influence the quantity and quality of critical coverage; however, this relationship does not apply uniformly across networks. The findings have important implications for the capacity of comprehensive and critical coverage provided by some network news divisions while not undermining the financial interests of their corporate owners.


ownership, bias, network news, broadcasting rights, sports journalism

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