Political Talkshows for Entertainment: Studies on Dealing with Information Programs on Television
Political talkshows on German TV have been extraordinarily popular with the audience and sometimes reach several million viewers on a weekly basis. There is a broad concensus that watching these shows may foster political education and the necessary deliberation of democratic ideals in the sense of dealing with real political issues as a main goal of the show. Nonetheless, these topics are offered in a rather entertaining way. One frequently raised question is therefore whether the presentation of politics in this way may still be considered a respectable discussion or whether the boundaries to 'pure entertainment' of the audience have already been passed in the sense that the show only serves bare amusement and no political education. This question has up to now mainly been analyzed by relying on content analyses of said shows and has rather rarely been based on the analyses of reasons, motives, interests and processing strategies of the audience or on the effect political talkshows can have. On the basis of entertainment and persuasion theories this project seeks to answer the following questions: Why does the audience use these media products, how does it process the offered content, and which effects has the processing on the political understanding of the content.