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Labour and Tory focus 'squeezing rivals out'

By PA Reporters

The media's focus on Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn has resulted in a "two-party squeeze" leaving smaller parties struggling to get the level of TV and newspaper coverage they enjoyed in previous general elections, new research has found.

Conservatives and Labour have between them taken up around 70% of TV coverage and 84% of election stories in the national press, while the Liberal Democrats, Ukip and Scottish National Party have seen their exposure reduced from the 2015 contest, found a report by Loughborough University's Centre for Research in Communication and Culture.

And the survey, which covered the period May 5-10, found that Mrs May was the most prominent politician in the week's coverage, featuring in almost one-third (32.4%) of news items about the election, followed by Mr Corbyn (21.4%). Her husband Philip was the fifth most-reported political figure, featuring in 4.3% of stories on the back of his appearance alongside his wife on BBC1's The One Show.

By comparison, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron featured in 6.4% of news items, shadow chancellor John McDonnell in 6.1%, European Council president Donald Tusk in 2.9% and Ukip leader Paul Nuttall and the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon each in 2.6%.

While the Tories only just outstripped Labour in terms of TV exposure - by 35.6% to 34.7% of coverage - they secured the lion's share of press reporting on the election, featuring in 50.2% of coverage, against 33.6% for Labour.

Ukip saw its coverage fall by 10% in the press and 3% on TV compared to 2015, while the SNP (down 7% in the press and 5% on TV) and Liberal Democrats (down 3% in the newspapers and 1% in TV broadcasts) endured smaller declines.

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