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The Handbook of International Advertising Research by Hong Cheng

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27

Political Advertising in International Comparison

Christina Holtz-Bacha

Introduction

Across the world, political actors rely on advertising to address citizens in order to sell their policies and promote their candidates. While political advertising is probably as old as politics itself, it took on a new form with the advent of television. In the United States, television was opened up early for political advertising, which was treated according to freedom of expression principles and thus did not experience any restrictions. Other countries followed, mostly much later; but up to the present day, the no-limits model of the United States is unique.

Due to the proliferation of television, and further supported by the candidate-centered electoral system, political advertising on television soon became the most important campaign channel in the US and at the same time triggered academic research that was particularly interested in the strategies of the ads and in their effects. A political advertising bibliography presented in 1989 already listed more than 200 studies (Louden, 1989).

Several factors may have been responsible for the fact that political advertising on television elsewhere did not reach the same relevance as in the United States. First of all, its commercial orientation made the financing of the US broadcasting system dependent on the market and therefore more open to advertising in general. In contrast, the public service idea dominated the broadcasting systems in Western ...

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