For helpful comments, we are grateful to Ben Allen, Thad Dunning, Eduardo Gómez, Francesca Jensenius, Jody LaPorte, Scott Mainwaring, Elizabeth Levy Paluck, Neal Richardson, David Samuels, Terri Towner, four anonymous reviewers, and seminar participants at the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University; and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Thanks to the Kellogg Institute for research support, and to Eduardo Leoni, Lúcio Rennó, and Cesar Zucco for data assistance. Replication data are available at http://www.taylorboas.com or http://www.fdhidalgo.org.
Controlling the Airwaves: Incumbency Advantage and Community Radio in Brazil
Article first published online: 27 JUL 2011
©2011, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 55, Issue 4, pages 869–885, October 2011
How to Cite
Boas, T. C. and Hidalgo, F. D. (2011), Controlling the Airwaves: Incumbency Advantage and Community Radio in Brazil. American Journal of Political Science, 55: 869–885. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2011.00532.x
- Issue published online: 12 OCT 2011
- Article first published online: 27 JUL 2011
Direct influence over communication media is a potent resource during electoral campaigns, and politicians have an incentive to gain control of the airwaves to advance their careers. In this article, we use data on community radio license applications in Brazil to identify both the causal effect of incumbency on politicians’ ability to control the media and the causal effect of media control on their future electoral prospects. Using a regression discontinuity design, we compare city council candidates who barely won or barely lost an election, showing that incumbency more than doubles the probability of an application’s approval by the Ministry of Communications. Next, using genetic matching, we compare candidates who acquired community radio licenses before an election to similar politicians who did not, showing that a radio station substantially increases one’s vote share and probability of victory. These findings demonstrate that media control helps entrench local political power in Brazil.