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Internet not eating into TV as it remains the '800lb gorilla' in age of media multi-tasking

NEW YORK - Nearly all people spend a third of their day using two or more media at the one time, often without even realising that they are doing so, a new report has found.

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The Middletown Media Studies II report revealed that people spent an average of nine hours a day consuming media, including watching TV and radio, as well as spending time on their computers, reading books and using the telephone. This makes media the number one activity people spend doing every day, with television by far the most popular medium.

It found an extremely high number of people using two or more media concurrently -- with over 96% of the survey doing so for 30% of the day. The number one combination was people watching television and using the internet at the same time; followed by those watching television while using email, and those watching television while on the phone. For another 40% of the day, people were devoted solely to engaging with media, rather than combining it with other activities such as childminding.

The study has been conducted by researchers at the Ball State University Center for Media Design. It is based on a study that followed 400 people from first thing in the morning until as late as the participants would allow the researchers to stay.

It followed them wherever they were, at home, work or other activities such as shopping, with aim of providing a consumer-centric look at how media is used in the US.

Presenting the findings at the Mediapost Forecast 2006, part of Advertising Week in New York, Bob Papper, a professor of telecommunications and co-author of the study, said: "Television remains the 800lb gorilla media -- it's not even close."

Radio remains in second place, but overall computer use -- including time spent online as well as other uses -- now makes it the second most used medium.

The survey showed that a number of surprising facts. For example, it revealed that 18- to 24-year-olds were the second lowest internet users, but watched more television than those aged between 25 and 34, who watched the least amount of television.

Papper also said that the research had not shown any evidence that internet is eating into television hours, but that the centre would be undertaking further research in that field.

Presenting the findings to the media industry in New York this week, co-author Mike Bloxham said that a great untapped resource for advertisers could be finding a way of reaching people during the time when they were using their computers but not going on the internet.

Copies of the full report can be purchased directly from the university.

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