“International Media Market and Cultural Imperialism” Student X

Teacher X
August, 2012
Table of Content
1.0 Introduction 3
2.0 International Media Market and Cultural Imperialism 4
2.1 Cultural Imperialism 4
2.2 International Media Market 5
2.3 Media Imperialism and Cultural Imperialism 6
2.4 International Media Market and Cultural Imperialism 7
3.0 Conclusions 11
4.0 References 12
The theory of Cultural Imperialism as viewed by Schiller (1973) indicated that the influence of the Western nation`s media was so powerful that it influenced the third world culture with the imposition of their own culture on them resulting in destroying their culture. In this regard Anderson and Ross (1998) after a gap of 25 years argued that Western Civilization has the disposable money to put into media (film, news, comics, etc.) extensively thus getting maximum output. The other parts of the world invest their money in purchasing such produce from them instead of making them on their own as it turns out to be more cost effective. Hence, the Third World nations constantly follow the First World`s lifestyle, beliefs and habits and they then try to adapt the western culture by replacing it with their original existing culture.
The studies of Schiller are indicative of the theory of cultural imperialism, whereas the opinion of Anderson & Ross is indicative of how it is happening. However the new millennium has a different assumption, more specifically in the light of the emergence of the concept of globalization. From the argument of Roger, this study is of the view that media, especially the international media being a powerful tool of communication, if not handled appropriately more specifically regarding a sensitive issues like that of culture may result in unconstructive communication. As such this study will further to study the theory and concepts related to cultural imperialism and evaluate the international media`s perception of it.
International Media Market and Cultural Imperialism
The theory of cultural imperialism was one of the most discussed topics for theorist during 1960 through 1970. However the theory at the end of the century was out of fashion as some studies declared its death. However the emergence of the concept of globalisation as per (Vincent, 2007) the global communication channels re-visited the theory of cultural imperialism giving rise to a fresh debate. The focus of discussion was centred on the existence and reproduction of the cultural imperialism. In this context Ezema (2009) found that though some viewed cultural imperialism as incoherent, other strongly opposed it.
Additionally Anon (2011) argue that recently, media in the form of newspapers, magazines, television and radio is bringing in more awareness and there is an increase in the availability of information through internet worldwide. Such opinions or beliefs are stereotypes, prejudices, deliberate misinterpretations and exaggerations that carry on or transmitted, influence people along with the genuine information. This misleads a segment of people and influences their beliefs against someone`s culture or their beliefs and may come out as hostile, threatening or alien to them. Such are the negative stereotypes that eventually lead to a cultural battle or war that uses languages, religions and customs as tools or weapons.
Cultural Imperialism
The theory of cultural imperialism was one of the famous topics for theorist to discus during the 1960 and 1970. Debate and discussions regarding this term was talking place between scholars everywhere as a new way of imperialism.
According to Barket (1997, p. 183) Cultural Imperialism (CI) is a complex term and diverse from two controversial words, “Culture” and “Imperialism”. According to the author this is a term which has to be understood as an imposition of one particular national culture on another. Here the media plays an important role as carriers of the cultural meanings which seem to be the dominating aspects in the overall culture of the subdued nation.
Thus we can basically conclude that cultural imperialism means the imposing of Western cultural oriented products over the non-West mainly with an intention of homogenizing the same and destroying the prevalent indigenous traditions. This aspect has been well referred by Appadurai (1996) about how the game of cricket became such a big phenomenon in India despite the fact that it is from west and yet had such a dominating influence on the traditional culture of India and for which it was well known.
The theory of CI was out of fashion as some studies considered its death (Sarah, 2006). However, the more recent studies of Movius (2010) the debates were re-raised to focus on the relationship between the Cultural imperialism and the international media. The author further stated that the focal point was the existence and reproduction of cultural imperialism through international media market. Some argued that the idea of cultural imperialism has become incoherent (Sarah, 2006) while the more recent studies (ex. Anon, 2011 Arnott, 2011 Movius, 2010) strongly have an opposing view.
International Media Market
According to McChesney & Schiller (2003) once media has been deregularised nationwide in major nations like US and UK, followed by the introduction of global measures such as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and formation of World Trade Organization (WTO) with an intention to clear the ground for investments and pave the way for the sales by multinational companies in both the regional as well as global markets. Thus the foundation has been laid for creating a global media system.
Additionally Cootle (2003) informs that Chernin`s firm Rupert Murdoch`s News Corporation has been the most aggressive global trailblazer though enough was talked about Sony Bertelsmann and AOL-Time Warner. Murdoch has satellite TV services catering to the people starting from Asia to Europe to Latin America. In Asia his Star TV dominates with as many as thirty channels in seven languages.
News corporation`s TV has around 45% stake in the China`s Phoenix TV and reaches about forty five million homes over there now. It has accounted for an increase of 80% in its advertisement revenues during the last year. This hardly makes anything to say about the News Corporation`s total assets comprising of Twentieth Century Fox films, HarperCollins publishers TV stations, Fox TV network, cable TV channels magazines and a professional sport team.
Boyd-Barrett (1997) further state that those adhering to this kind of media imperialism tradition though in a small group prevailing in the western countries were able to control the entire worldwide media trade besides using the same for conveying there cultural and economical values with particular reference to individualism and consumerism to a large number of developing countries all over the world. Whichever is the country most affected by this kind of media influence either tries to adopt the same as a commercial or a political strategy deliberately or it a simply absorb the same without getting reflected. According to Dorfman and Mattelart (1975), who while evaluating the content of Disney entertainment channel contest that, the so called values of the American consumer-capitalist show the way of life as a prescribed norm. However Rantenen (2005) argue that the argument in the contest of cultural imperialism has in fact lost its way, as most of the countries tend to increase the production of their media coverage. Some of the governments like those of Japan and Taiwan started putting pressure on their national television broadcasters for producing more programs on their own.
Media Imperialism and Cultural Imperialism
Barker (1997, p.185) argued that the main point of the thesis relating to the cultural imperialism emphasizes on the global culture homogenization by spreading the capitalist consumerism through global television. This involves the media in a broad way. Actually media in general worked as an important tool to deliver the CI. Even some scholars such as Thusu suggested that the CI has been reproduced through media, and that Media Imperialism (MI) is another way of domination. In most of the occasions these aspects of cultural imperialism and media imperialism are interchanged as stated by Livingston (2000).
However according to Tomlinson (1991, p. 22) the experience of the people over the media is confined within the context of their large culture and hence the media imperialism should be viewed as “a particular way of discussing cultural imperialism” (p. 22). From the above this study is of the view that MI and CI are linked with consumerism. Evidence to this can be found in the studies of Boyd-Barrett (1977, p. 117) who argues that MI is a process wherein the ownership, the framework or even the media content in any country either singly or together is subject to considerable external pressure from the interests of media of any country not even taking into consideration of any kind of reciprocation of influence from that country. Additionally Rantenen (2005) argues that in order to keep its national film industries strong France has subsidized the same. Other media imports, like the regional television and music production show an increase in a natural manner as they can be managed in an economical manner since the audience want them in any case (Rantenen, 2005).
The more recent studies of Thusu (2010) have a different perception of CI and media advertisements. Citing an example in the American context the author states that in reality `American film TV programs, such as music, entertainment, news, shopping malls & theme parks have in fact set the standards worldwide and also paved the way for any kind of imitation (p.224). The author further informs that many American media enterprises were acquired by Japanese film and TV, British advertising, German music distribution and by some other competing groups. Thus it can be understood that the pre-emergence of American culture product is not only maintained globally but even extended to the new locals.
International Media Market and Cultural Imperialism
The commercial media system is an essential transmission form for all the business establishments all over the world to market their products. The same can be termed as a globalization. In this regard McChesney & Schiller (2003) inform that out of the total number of media companies 75% of the global spending on the advertising is taken care by hardly 20% of them since there has been a stupendous growth as far as the spending on the advertising is concerned during the last 10 years the TV media could exploit this to the maximum and is able to grow faster than the GDP growth.
An extensive study of cultural imperialism theories and its relationship with mass media as done by Livingston (2000) found that upraise of the media in 1970s has given birth to cultural imperialism and it developed to explain the situation existing at that time. Print, radio and television was the core transmitters of information from one nation to another among the First World and this lead to the spread of information like viral, reach out to the audience worldwide and making media more powerful. The advanced media, on the other hand, facilitates one-to-one communication in a faster and effective way, making it interactive in nature with aids like computers, satellite technologies and telecommunications.
Therefore, as the advanced media wide spreads across the developing nations, the argument of cultural imperialism that states that the power lies in the developed nations than the developing must be re-evaluated. However the more recent studies of Arnott (2011) inform that the spread of advanced telecommunications have seeded from the changes in the society thus formulating the media theory of CI. This theory of CI may have witnessed a small shift during the 1980s but it gained back its stance in the twenty-first century.
Chu & Alfian (1980) on one hand state that the international media market made the cultural imperialism continues through media on the other hand they argue that wherever the television was introduced with the help of Western aid the same could function freely without the Western influence. However Szhiller (1993) explained that even when there were no programs from US or Western sources still the consumerism culture frame the programs.
Szhiller (1993) further argue that the inflow of consumerist messages all over the world through international television media can be seen as a new of cultural imperialism particularly in the non-western world. Additionally Santor (1990) informs that more number of countries with different economy levels where able to produce more television programming on their own. Many low-cost programmes like talk shows and live music shows were developed and the telecast of the same was carried out both during the day and also at the prime time.
However one can really think that these kind of programmes are really local or not as the same have in fact been localised so that the audience preferred requirements are met in the contest of language and there cultural proximity as we discussed previously. However the more recent studies of Thusu (2010) looking at the international media market since late 1960s found that the media markets witnessed significant development in media industry in some countries which was growing fast. It has been argued that now the world splits into four main media regions and they are mostly self sufficient. Each of these four is based either on its geography or on its religious and cultural traditions and also on its language they being Euro-America, China, Southern Asia and Arabic countries.
Perhaps the better way to know the link between international media and CI is considering the rule of advertisement industry. Madison Avenue in New York is one the most important example argues Sklair (2002). Sklair in this regard argues that Hollywood along with the advertising industry which is based in Madison Avenue New York had a great influence in the earlier years of group culture worldwide even outside the United States of America. Similar is the opinion of Smith (1980) who while referring to the daily newspapers in English- language particularly in Asia numbering to almost 140 during 1970s have in fact grabbed the most part of the advertising revenue which has become the trend setting for modernization and Americanization.
Robertson (1995) states, that most of the culture what we now think as national or local has in fact been shaped over many centuries and he has provided some logic and evidence to this effect. According to Nordenstreng & Varis 1974, Beltran 1978, Boyd-Barrett 1980, Guback 1984 & Tomilson 1991, one important aspect of the cultural imperialism tradition is the uneven flwo of media in the form of advertising, new TV programmes, new films, borrowed from the western countries and imposed on the rest of the world.
During 1980s and 1990s the media markets of Latin America particularly those of Mexico Brazil and Venezuela have produced a huge number of programmes which were exported not only to the Hispanic geo-cultural market but also to the rest of the world and even to the big export countries like US & UK.
In early 1990s even the Arab countries have also witnessed considerable revolutionary changes in their media particularly after their first satellite channel has been launched in Egypt which was followed by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and from other wealthy countries in Arab region in order to obtain some national pride. These channels were aimed to reach over and above 5 million people in Europe and 2 million from US who were of Arabic origin. India can be cited as another classic example since its Bollywood film industry tops in the film making compared to any other country with an average of 787 productions per annum during the period 1989-1998 in comparison to USA`s average of 591 productions at the same time as stated by Hesmondhalgh, 2007.
From the above discussion this study is of the view that there are four major types of criticism in cultural and media imperialism theoretical aspects. Firstly what is usually known as US cultural and media imperialism which is actually an advanced professional practice. Secondly there are various procedures at work in different countries and there cultural variations can be of more importance than there global patterns. Thirdly all countries tend to develop their own internal cultural and media systems which counteract their external cultural influences obtained from USA, Europe and Japan. Fourthly any kind of flow from USA may work either for or against its national autonomy.
1.0 Conclusions
At the present global level, there seem to be changes in the cultural production boundaries because of the expansion in the capitalist market economy. Despite the fact that both cultural proximity & geographical closeness facilitate the media to cross the borders of language, it appears that the culture seems to play more important role than the geographic and Europe can be quoted as a classic example for this. People in Europe view there television programs, internet sites, listen to music which are all culturally proximate.
Although people have liking for their own cosmopolitan appeal of both European and American television, music & movies they seem to select a particular media of their own culture. Media imperialism follows logically from cultural imperialism. The cultural imperialism indicates that the beliefs and values of powerful societies are usually imposed on the weak societies to demonstrate its exploitive nature. This normally means that the First World capitalist societies have imposed their beliefs and values on the poor Third World societies. When the US or the Western control of culture is considered the same can be easily achieved by means of a mass media control. This creates conditions for a conformity to a dominant culture and limits its possibilities of any kind of effective resistance. Theories pertaining to cultural and media imperialism are so strongly held that they are even differed strongly.
As a bottom line this study is of the view that whenever the economy is not in a good shape and suffers financial crisis, then the national media can no more afford the high cost of the local production. Hence they are compelled to import the materials from outside the country to fill up the airing time. Thus, this study is of the view that the consumerist messages` global flow through international television and media market was seen by some as an evidence of a newly formed cultural imperialism particularly with reference to the non-Western world. More justification can be found in the studies of Rantenen (2005) who agrees that probably the media is the most powerful component of any kind of cultural imperialism.
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