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Working Paper

Consumer Substitution Among Media

Joel Waldfogel

Media Bureau Staff Research Paper 2002-3 (Sept 2002) was written by Waldfogel (The Wharton School, Univ. of Pennsylvania) at the request of the Media Bureau.  Waldfogel considers whether the changes in availability or use of some media have brought about changes in the availability or consumers’ use of other media, or whether different media serve as substitutes for one another for informing consumers.

This question is important because FCC media ownership policies are predicated to varying degrees on the extent of substitutability of media for various purposes, e.g., news and entertainment. This study therefore examines the extent of substitutability across media for both of these purposes using a variety of demand and supply measures.  Waldfogel finds evidence of substitution between Internet and broadcast TV, both overall and for news; between daily and weekly newspapers; and between daily newspapers and broadcast TV news.

Waldfogel also finds evidence of substitution between cable and daily newspapers, both overall and for news consumption; between radio and broadcast TV for news consumption; and between the Internet and daily newspapers for news consumption.  He finds little or no evidence, however, of substitution between weekly newspapers and broadcast TV or between radio and either Internet or cable.

Issued: September 2002

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