Telecracy: Testing for Channels of Persuasion

51 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2012 Last revised: 13 Jul 2014

Date Written: December 22, 2012


We consider the long-lived slant towards Berlusconi in political information on Italian TV. We exploit a shock to the slanted exposure of viewers: idiosyncratic deadlines to switch to digital TV from 2008 to 2012, which increased the number of freeview channels tenfold. The switch caused a drop in the vote share of Berlusconi’s coalition by between 5.5 and 7.5 percentage points. The effect was stronger in towns with older and less educated voters. At least 20% of digital users changed their voting behavior after the introduction of digital TV. Our evidence is consistent with the existence of persuasion-biased viewers.

Keywords: Persuasion, Media Economics, Elections, Behavioral Economics

JEL Classification: D72, L82, D03

Suggested Citation

Barone, Guglielmo and D'Acunto, Francesco and Narciso, Gaia, Telecracy: Testing for Channels of Persuasion (December 22, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Guglielmo Barone

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184

Francesco D'Acunto (Contact Author)

Boston College ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

Gaia Narciso

Trinity College Dublin ( email )


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