Javascript Menu by Ariel Center for Policy Research

Ariel Center for Policy Research (ACPR)

ACPR Research


Bias in the Israeli Broadcast Media,

Abraham Gur
ACPR Policy Paper No, 174, 2008


Media bias is one of the most controversial issues in political and professional circles and is also one of the most neglected topics in communication research, particularly in empirical research. Niven’s observation of a few years ago, that little research has subjected allegations of bias to meaningful tests is still true today.[1] Most existing studies do not provide operational definitions of bias; they employ a variety of methods and approaches and present contradictory and confusing results. Many studies have attempted to find a bias in favor of a liberal or conservative ideology or rival parties such as the Democratic and the Republican parties in the US. Several scholars have examined bias via input, while others assessed output. A few studies have dealt with public perceptions of bias. Several have offered general statements, while others preferred specific case studies. A number of studies present direct observations made by participants in the news-making process, while others present empirical results based on interviews, surveys, content analysis and public opinion polls.

This work departs from existing directions in bias research. It examines bias in commentary and analysis of events, personalities and processes, and it offers a new methodology to accomplish this task. In today’s complex world, commentary has become a major function in providing adequate context, specific explanations, policy considerations as well as alternative policies. The public demands to understand and not only to know what is happening. The media has recognized this need and devotes considerable space and time to commentary. Outstanding commentators enjoy prestigious status in journalism and those who have syndication contracts are well-known beyond their specific media outlet.

This work applies the new methodology to the case study of the Oslo Peace Process, 1994-2004. We examine the Israeli mainstream broadcast media over a period of 10˝ years: Two television channels (Channels 1 and 2) and two radio stations (The Voice of Israel and the Israeli Army Radio stations).

In this work I examined whether the media was biased or balanced, and made a comparison between the periods of the Labor Governments (1994-1996 and 1999-2001) and those of the Likud Governments (1996-1999 and 2001-2004).


[1] D. Niven, “Bias in the News: Partisanship and Negativity in Media Coverage of Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton”, Press-Politics, 6, 3, pp. 31-46, 2001; D. Niven, Tilt? The Search for Media Bias, Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.

For the complete text of this paper in English, click here.