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CSAE Study Slams Broadcasters

The Committee for the Study of the American Electorate has released a study of 10 states that it said shows that a "substantial majority" of Senate, House and gubernatorial debates in 2002 were not televised and that a majority of stations with debates in their market chose not to air them.

NAB wasn't commenting until it had a chance to study the study. Two years ago, CSAE apologized after NAB uncovered various flaws in its methodology for a similar study, promising it would "never happen again."

CSAE Director Curtis Gans says that for this study, "we double checked with the broadcast logs of every station we cited. "It wasn't terribly off last time," he said, "but it was enough not to want to do it again." He also says that while some of NAB's corrections were accurate, others were not.

According to the study, 30 of 50 gubernatorial debates were televised, eight of 17 Senatorial debates and 36 of 107 House debates. When it came to multiple debates, commercial broadcasters actually aired more than double those of PBS stations, with 17 network affiliates airing more than one debate to only seven PBS stations.

Several stations were singled out for praise for airing multiple debates. They were WFTV Orlando (ABC) and Twin Cities Public Television, five debates; independnet WFMZ Allentown, Pa., and WESH Daytona Beach (NBC), four debates; WHDH Boston (NBC), KGW Portland (NBC), and WDIO Duluth, Minn. (ABC), three apiece.