The role of social and behavioral science in policymaking for television

by George A. Comstock


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To date, social and behavioral science has had little influence on policymaking in regard to television. Yet, there are numerous possibilities for application both in federal regulation and in policymaking outside the sphere of formal regulation. Possibilities in regulatory policymaking: (1) assessing the influence of TV advertising on children, as exemplified by obtaining of evidence on the relationship between drug abuse and drug advertising; (2) measuring outcomes of FCC and FTC rulemaking; and (3) evaluating broadcasting industry practices that might be open to regulatory action. Possibilities outside the regulatory sphere: (1) research on effects of programming where new industry policy might be called for, as exemplified by the networks' efforts to reduce violence; (2) validating industry self-regulatory codes and enforcement by network broadcast standards departments; and (3) analysis of the degree to which programming serves public needs, such as adequacy of TV news for those for whom it is the principal source of public affairs knowledge.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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