The first media study was carried out before the 1979 European Elections. The study consists of the content analysis of television programs of the main broadcasters in the nine original member states.
The tradition was renewed in 1999 when a new series of media study started. The content analysis was carried out on a sample of national news media coverage in 15 EU member states in 1999, in 24 EU member states in 2004, and in all 27 EU member states in 2009. In all waves, the focus was on national television and newspapers because these media are consistently listed as the most important sources of information about the EU for citizens in Europe (Eurobarometer 54–62).
All three waves included the main national evening news broadcasts of the most widely watched public and commercial television stations by country. The study also includes one or two ‘quality’ (i.e. broadsheet) and one tabloid newspaper from each country. For countries without a relevant tabloid newspaper, the most sensationalist-oriented other daily newspaper was included. In 1999, the data set includes only one national broadsheet newspaper and thus is missing a sensationalist-oriented newspaper.
The data is available in two formats: the European Election Study Longitudinal Media Study, an integrated data set comprising all three studies mentioned above, and the, Media Study Data of the European Parliament Election Study 2009.
The 2014 Media Study dataset is still being under construction. It concentrates on the content analysis of front-page news of the main national newspapers in all member countries.