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October 1, 2000 Contact: Melissa Ring (617) 496-9761

More Americans Say It's Okay for NBC to Broadcast Baseball Game Instead of Debate

Voter Involvement Index Survey Methodology

NBC's decision to broadcast a post-season baseball game instead of Tuesday night's presidential debate drew a great deal of criticism so much so that NBC is now offering its affiliates the option of broadcasting either the game or the debate. According to the latest Shorenstein Center national poll, however, Americans say by a narrow margin of 49% to 45% that NBC's original decision is acceptable.

Most of the respondents siding with NBC said either that the network should be free to broadcast what it wants or that its decision is acceptable because the debate is readily available on other channels. Only 11% of them said they liked NBC's decision because they want to watch the game. Of those who disagreed with NBC's decision, the most common complaint was that the debate was more important than a baseball game and should take precedence. Only 13% of this group said that NBC has a responsibility as a broadcast licensee to carry the debate.

The results reported here are from nationwide telephone surveys of approximately 1,000 adults conducted November 14, 1999 September 24, 2000. The surveys have a sampling error of ±3%. The Vanishing Voter Project is a study by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Funding for the project is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The project is co-directed by Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government & the Press at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard, and by Marvin Kalb, Executive Director of the Shorenstein Center's office in Washington.

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