Author(s): Ruben Durante, Paolo Pinotti, Andrea Tesei
ABSTRACT We investigate the electoral effects of early exposure to Silvio Berlusconi’s commercial television network, Mediaset, exploiting its staggered expansion across Italian munic- ipalities during the 1980s. We find that municipalities with access to Mediaset prior to 1985 exhibited greater support for Berlusconi’s party in 1994, when he first ran for office, and in the four following elections. This effect cannot be attributed to pro- Berlusconi news bias since no news programs were broadcast on Mediaset until 1991, when access to the network was already ubiquitous. We discuss alternative channels through which exposure to non-news content may have influenced Mediaset viewers’ political attitudes.
Keywords: mass media,voting,civic engagement