A new study by BMI analysts Warren Anderson and Rachel Waters details how the broadcast media use "B-roll" (background video clips) showing pictures of higher-than-average station marquees to present a more dire picture of gas prices than reality:
Pictures of gas station prices on NBC averaged 36 cents higher than the national average between March 21 and May 24. For the typical American driver with a 20 mpg vehicle, the 36 cents extra would equal more than $200 a year.
Six of the stories in this study showed gas that was more than a dollar above the national average. ABC had four such stories and NBC two. CBS never ran a story that depicted gas at or below average.
According to experts, there are many reasons why gas prices have risen. Those include: political problems in places such as Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, and Venezuela, lingering effects from Katrina, increased demand from China and India, new ethanol requirements, and the typical summer increase. While explaining these reasons to viewers, the networks often displayed prices that were national extremes rather than those encountered by the average American consumer.
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