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This Is How Little Time Television News Devotes To Climate Change

01/16/2014 07:30 am ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014
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WASHINGTON -- Climate change got more coverage on broadcast news in 2013 than in the previous few years, but the issue still didn't get nearly as much attention as it did in 2009, Media Matters found in a new analysis.

ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox together featured more coverage in 2013 than they did in 2012. The amount of airtime granted to climate change on both the Sunday shows and the nightly news was up, too -- to a total of 27 minutes, and an hour and 42 minutes, respectively, for the entire year. The progressive media watchdog group Media Matters totaled the time broadcasters devoted to climate change for a new report released Thursday.

The Media Matters report deemed overall coverage of climate change "tepid," and noted there were many news events in 2013 that created opportunities for coverage, including carbon dioxide levels that exceeded 400 parts per million in May, President Barack Obama's major climate policy address in June, and the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment in September.

Coverage peaked in 2009, the year of the Copenhagen climate summit and the release of hundreds emails stolen from climate scientists. It was much lower for the three years that followed.

CBS won the gold medal for Sunday morning coverage, devoting 16 minutes of "Face the Nation" to climate throughout the year. NBC's "Meet the Press," meanwhile, was cited as "failing to offer a single substantial mention of climate change in all of 2013." Even "Fox News Sunday" gave the subject more air time, at four minutes.

The analysis notes that "Face the Nation" was the first Sunday show in five years to feature scientists discussing climate change, in a May 28 segment with climatologist Heidi Cullen. More often, the report noted, the news programs will feature politicians or media figures discussing climate.

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) announced earlier this week that they are launching an effort to pressure television networks to devote more time to covering climate change, citing Media Matters' 2012 report.

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