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Guilhem Cassan, UNamur Print
Friday, 05 October 2018, 12:15 - 13:15

Guilhem Cassan, UNamur

Voting Power and the Supply of News Media: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from India 

Abstract : Political information conveyed through both traditional and new media outlets is known to have a major impact on electoral outcomes, distributional patterns, and the relative salience of political issues (among others Iyengar 1994; Gentzkow, Shapiro, and Sinkinson 2011; Cagé 2017). Therefore, it is crucial to understand the supply of news media in democratic contexts and in particular, the extent to which media actors respond to political (as opposed to purely economic) incentives.
 
The goal of this research project is to investigate how media owners react to changes in the political importance of citizens – democratization– in different areas. Whereas “one person, one vote” is often considered the guiding principle of democracies, there is in fact great variation across the democratic world in the extent to which votes matter at all (e.g., less in the context of electoral fraud), the extent to which they translate directly into seats or affect elections in a more indirect manner (such as through electoral colleges), and the weight given to one vote compared to another (e.g., votes in densely populated areas counting for less). As the voting power of an area increases, influencing the political behavior of the electorate also becomes increasingly important for actors seeking political influence. As a result, controlling the quantity and bias of the news media that voters are exposed to becomes a serious challenge. One may therefore expect changes in the voting power of an area to be associated with an increase in the supply of news media.
 
To test this intuition, we will turn to the Indian newspaper market. Exploiting an exogenous change in the voting power of towns and districts across India resulting from a delimitation (redistricting) of electoral districts (constituencies) that came into effect in 2008, we will explore changes in the number of newspapers, in the circulation of these newspapers (both on average and aggregated), as well as in the identify and nature of the owners. 

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