Ad Fontes TV Reliability, Bias Ratings Launches, Former CBS TV Prez Appointed To Board

Ad Fontes Media on Monday plans to release its TV Reliability and Bias Ratings solution that gives television news watchers and advertisers a way to evaluate the reliability and bias of more than 200 individual TV and video news programs across network, cable, connected TV (CTV), and other video platforms.

“Media buyers purchase what they always have, regardless of any bias or misinformation, because they don’t know any better,” said Ad Fontes Media founder and CEO Vanessa Otero. Buyers purchase what worked for them in the past, but today’s landscape has changed, and it’s so much more important to stay informed, she said.

Advertisers invest budgets in these networks, but they don’t always know whether the show’s information is biased or spreads misinformation. To get at the truth, the rating is based on "content analysis methodology," Otero said. 



The company’s initial offering focused on news websites, social media, and podcasts. Now Ad Fontes is bringing the technology and data analysis to TV news. CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News are among the 230 news sites being rated by technology and a panel of human auditors.

The rating system drills down into the show, rather than the network, because each program’s reliability and bias rating can vary widely.

Buyers are looking at charts and numbers based on psychographic targeting and might not know the data has changed, said long-time media veteran Elizabeth Tumulty, who is one of the latest to join Ad Fontes board. Tumulty most recently served as President of CBS Television Network.

“News is a business,” Tumulty said. “It used to be a public service, but now it’s a business.”

When asked how industry can get the news back into public service, and out of businesses, she said it would be “complicated.”

“It’s the government and money,” she said. “It used to be that local television stations were owned by local businesspeople, and now they’re owned by corporations and hedge funds. Now it’s about money.”

Data analytics has become huge, and it’s another piece of information that buyers can use to serve brands. The shows are rated for reliability and bias. The shows with a score above 40 are very reliable, mostly fact reporting and analysis. These types of shows are typically labeled as “straight news.”

Each month dozens of TV shows are added. The data is available through a subscription service. Analysts look at new TV shows often. There’s an overall rating per network, but also by individual show.

Tumulty said many TV shows have become opinion shows, and not a recap of the daily news. “Someone may have begun watching a specific brand, but overtime it evolved from news to opinion, and they didn’t realize it,” she said.

Along with the release of its TV Reliability and Bias Ratings process, Ad Fontes Media will announce the expansion of its Board of Advisors. Tumulty, as well as Alec Saunders, Don Hussen, and Crista Bailey have joined the board.

3 comments about "Ad Fontes TV Reliability, Bias Ratings Launches, Former CBS TV Prez Appointed To Board".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 27, 2021 at 11:42 a.m.

    Lots of odd statements in this one. local TV stations used to be owned by local business people but now they are run by hedge funds and corporations. Huh! Originally most stations were owed by newspaper interests and/or the TV networks in the larger cities. And TV news was always a  business venture---not just a public service. Time buyers use psychographics to make TV news buys and go with what works for them----really? Most TV news buys are driven by the older age skews of the audience or by a desire to be associated with news content. The audience "currency" is adults aged 25-54---even though the vast majority of the viewers are over 50---absurd---but it's  not psychographics. Many TV "news " shows have become opinion shows but their audiences haven't noticed the change from straight news to opinion. Really?

    Anyway, despite this kind of babbling, I do wish these folks the best and hope that they are able to provide  fair and balanced monitoring of the various TV news shows as well as news provided by other media.

  2. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics replied, July 29, 2021 at 6:05 p.m.

    To be fair, Ed, apart from O&Os, many  TV stations were owned by local newspaper interests and radio broadcasters  and not news conglomerates. That was later.  In NY you had three VHF indies, who owned them?  And as local broadcasters, they had to do what little was required to keep a license.

    Much of what is offered here is about cable news programming and hopefully someday online too.  If advertisers use this to create a whitelist of safe entities, you and I both support this idea.  

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 29, 2021 at 6:27 p.m.

    Jack, that's what I said--- leading local newspapers, which often also owned radio stations in the same markets. As for independents In New York, you had WABD---channel 5---which was the linchpin of the ill-fated Dumont TV network---they also had an indie in Washington. And WPIX, the leading NY indie, was owned by the Tribune syndicate. That's why the FCC, after allowing about 95 stations to go on the air instituted a freeze on new stations as it was concerned about potentially monopolistic control of news content if newspapers, radio and TV outlets were owned by the same companies in so many markets. The freeze, which lasted about two years gave the FCC time to figure out a better allocation method but it also placed ABC in a precarious position as most of the stations that got the early start---- the few indies excluded---were primary CBS or NBC affiliates---in addition to the O&Os. As a result, ABC sponsors had to put up with very poor station lineups for their shows for about 3-5 years--until the mid-late 1950s. And ABC was mired in third place in the ratings on most evenings until it  launched "Disneyland" in the 1954-55 season. It's all in my book---"TV Now and Then", 2015, Media Dynamics Inc.

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