Friday, March 24, 2017

How Broadcast Networks Covered Climate Change in 2016

In 2016, evening newscasts and Sunday shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as Fox Broadcast Co.'s Fox News Sunday, collectively decreased their total coverage of climate change by 66 percent compared to 2015, even though there were a host of important climate-related stories, including the announcement of 2015 as the hottest year on record, the signing of the Paris climate agreement, and numerous climate-related extreme weather events.  There were also two presidential candidates to cover, and they held diametrically opposed positions on the Clean Power Plan, the Paris climate agreement, and even on whether climate change is a real, human-caused phenomenon. Apart from PBS, the networks also failed to devote significant coverage to climate-related policies, but they still found the time to uncritically air climate denial -- the majority of which came from now-President Donald Trump and his team.

Total Coverage of Climate Change in 2015 and 2016 (Credit: Media Matters) Click to Enlarge.
Combined climate coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox News Sunday decreased significantly from 2015 to 2016, despite ample opportunity to cover climate change.  In 2016 ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday* aired a combined 50 minutes of climate coverage on their evening and Sunday news programs, which was 96 minutes less than in 2015 -- a drop of about 66 percent.

*Fox Broadcast Co. does not air a nightly news program

As was the case in 2015, ABC aired the least amount of climate coverage in 2016, covering the topic for just six minutes, about seven minutes less than in 2015.  All the other major networks also significantly reduced their coverage from the previous year, with NBC showing the biggest decrease (from 50 minutes in 2015 to 10 minutes in 2016), followed by Fox (39 minutes in 2015 to seven minutes in 2016) and CBS (from 45 minutes in 2015 to 27 minutes in 2016).

Read more at How Broadcast Networks Covered Climate Change in 2016

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