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Study: Opinion Dominates Cable News Channel Over Factual Reporting

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President of MSNBC Phil Griffin, host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" Rachel Maddow, host of "The Last Word" Lawrence O' Donnell and host of "Hardball" Chris Matthews speak during the 'MSNBC' panel during the NBC Universal portion of the 2011 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Aug. 2, 2011 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

President of MSNBC Phil Griffin, host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” Rachel Maddow, host of “The Last Word” Lawrence O’ Donnell and host of “Hardball” Chris Matthews speak during the ‘MSNBC’ panel during the NBC Universal portion of the 2011 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Aug. 2, 2011 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — A new study finds that opinion is dominating the amount of factual reporting offered by cable news channels.

The Pew Researcher Center’s “The State of the News Media 2013” study shows that 85 percent of airtime on MSNBC is opinion and commentary, compared to just 15 percent of facts-only reporting. Pew also found that Fox News and CNN are more balanced in the amount of opinion and fact put into their respective programming. A reported 55 percent of Fox News’ airtime is opinion-based, while 45 percent is factual reporting. Meanwhile, CNN’s airtime is 54 percent reporting and 46 percent opinion and commentary.

“In prime time, MSNBC made the key decision to reprogram itself as a liberal counterweigh to the Fox News Channel’s conservative nighttime lineup,” the study states. “The new MSNBC strategy and lineup were accompanied by a substantial cut in interview time and sharply increased airtime devoted to edited packages. But those packages are not what many would consider traditional produced pieces.”

MSNBC’s prime time programming comes in the form of Al Sharpton, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Lawrence O’Donnell. Beginning next month, Schultz’s show will move to the weekends and he will reportedly be replaced by Chris Hayes, who will be the new lead-in to Rachel Maddow.

Pew shows that packages are now dominating the shows on prime time.

“In prime time, the biggest change in programming structure at MSNBC was a significant increase in the time devoted to packaged stories and a corresponding decrease in the newshole allotted to interviews,” the study states. “In 2007, packages accounted for only 13 [percent] of the MSNBC evening airtime studied; by 2012 it had risen to 31 [percent]. At the same time the once-overwhelming dominance of interviews (75 [percent]) in 2007 had fallen to 52 [percent] in 2012.”

Pew conducted the study by reviewing and comparing programming for the first five months of 2007 and 2012.

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