University of Bonn
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|November 2014||Does Conflict of Interest Lead to Biased Coverage? Evidence from Movie Reviews|
with Stefano DellaVigna: w20661
Media outlets are increasingly owned by conglomerates, inducing a conflict of interest: a media outlet can bias its coverage to benefit companies in the same group. We test for bias by examining movie reviews by media outlets owned by News Corp.—such as the Wall Street Journal—and by Time Warner— such as Time. We use a matching procedure based on reported preferences to disentangle bias due to conflict of interest from correlated tastes. We find no evidence of bias in the reviews for 20th Century Fox movies in the News Corp. outlets, nor for the reviews of Warner Bros. movies in the Time Warner outlets. We can reject even small effects, such as biasing the review by one extra star (out of four) every 13 movies. We test for differential bias when the return to bias is plausibly higher, exam...