Networks are airing the Democratic National Convention only in snippets and recaps, allowing most of the event viewership to go to online streaming platforms, even for major speakers like former First Lady Michelle Obama and, on Wednesday, Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), if they do not fall in a distinct, one-hour, prime time slot.
The decision, according to the Daily Beast, was a deliberate one, designed to prevent President Donald Trump from commanding a full two hours of prime time network broadcasting every day next week, during the Republican National Convention.
Although it is not required that networks set aside equal time to both parties, campaign finance rules dictate that the same amount of airtime must be offered to both campaigns — and network executives feared that Trump would opt to use all of his available airtime.
“Multiple sources told The Daily Beast that when Democratic officials met with various broadcast network executives about their convention coverage plans, the executives stressed that they could not broadcast two hours each night in part because they then would have to give the same airtime to Trump, and all the wild unpredictability that might entail from an editorial perspective,” the outlet reported.
Sources told the Daily Beast that part of the problem lay with the Republican National Committee, which decided only recently to make their convention largely virtual and did not provide network executives with a detailed list of speakers and events, leaving them — a likely left-leaning group — worried.
“We don’t know what that content is going to be,” the source reportedly said.
The Daily Beast, of course, added that network executives were concerned about Trump because of “his penchant for peddling lies, misinformation, and conspiracy theories,” particularly about the coronavirus.
Although it does appear media bias could be at work — as The Daily Wire reported earlier this week, network coverage of Trump’s presidential campaign has been overwhelmingly negative — the explanation could be even simpler: people just aren’t that interested in what the Democrats have to say.
According to CNN, ratings for the Democratic National Convention are in a virtual freefall: “television viewership of the first virtual convention was down about 25% from the equivalent night in 2016.”
“According to Nielsen, the six biggest TV networks averaged a combined total of 19 million viewers during the 10 p.m. hour, which was the only hour that NBC, ABC, and CBS showed live,” the network reported. “The same six networks had almost 25 million viewers combined during the first night of the DNC in 2016.”
Michelle Obama’s speech — one of the most talked-about events of Monday’s DNC kickoff — was dwarfed in online viewership by a campaign add from Republican strategist and congressional GOP candidate Kimberly Klacik, per The Daily Wire’s Amanda Prestagiacomo.
Wednesday night will feature Harris’s speech. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will speak Thursday night to close out the convention.
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