Just Published! Social TV and Pluralism in Talk Shows


From contents to comments:

Social TV and perceived pluralism in political talk shows

New Media & Society (Journal IF: 3.110)

Co-author: Sergio Splendore

Acknowledgments: Voices from the Blogs; Giovanni De Stasio


What is worth remembering:

  • We locate the audience of talk shows in a two-dimensional space based on positive and negative sentiment expressed toward guest politicians
  • We evalute pluralism and audience fragmentation accordingly
  • Public television offers a plural set of talk shows but ignores the antipolitical audience
  • Across media networks, there exists a variety of shows appealing to different audiences
  • We find a statistically significant difference between the average left-right position of the shows presented by left-wing or right-wing hosts
  • There is no gender bias: female guests are not evaluated more negatively than males


Going beyond source and content pluralism, we propose a two-dimensional audiencebased measure of perceived pluralism by exploiting the practice of “social TV”. For this purpose, 135,228 tweets related to 30 episodes of prime time political talk shows broadcast in Italy in 2014 have been analyzed through supervised sentiment analysis. The findings suggest that the two main TV networks compete by addressing generalist audiences. The public television offers a plural set of talk shows but ignores the antipolitical audience. The ideological background of the anchorman shapes the audience’s perception, while the gender of the guests does not seem to matter.