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Internationalisation of the media tends to undermine national cultures
 

Internationalisation of the media tends to undermine national cultures

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    Internationalisation of the media tends to undermine national cultures Internationalisation of the media tends to undermine national cultures Document Transcript

    • Internationalisation of the Media Tends to Undermine National Cultures By: Yusuf Kurniawan Introduction The emergence of global media industries at present have really changed the face of the globe. The world is just like wired and closely connected, so that nearly anything happens in one place would be easily and quickly covered and reported to all over the world. Our globe has just turned into a ‘global village’, such as what McLuhan says “…we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned…As electrically contracted, the globe is no more than a village.” 1 The spread and flow of news across the globe has probably reached its fastest speed. News and information are mostly two things that are always expected to arrive quickly by audience. They are the things that nearly everybody wants to listen, watch and read from mass media everyday. This caused the rise of competition amongst media industries to attract audiences. And within the tough competition to gain more audience, they will be confronted to each other. To win the competition media industries would do anything that enable them to grow bigger. The advanced technologies, economic pressure, and policies of liberalisation have introduced a complexity of new forces, which are transforming the local/national media into international ones. Consequently, competition amongst the media industries to ‘sell’ their products became inevitable. Particularly with the ascending liberalisation of media and press around the world has made the media grow increase quickly as well. The consequence of this competition forces media industries to build their own distinct profiles and identities in order to be able to gain good reputation in public sphere. One of the ways media industries have to compete with others is by internationalising their institutions. With internationalisation media industries can have more opportunities in gaining more audience. McLuhan, Marshal (1964), Understanding Media, Routledge, London, p.11-12. 1
    • 2 The big changes in media industries have commenced just about twenty years ago. Dramatic restructuring of national media industries was started since the early 1980s that was then followed with the emergence of genuinely global commercial media market. 2 And it has actually been begun since the early of the nineteenth century where media industries showed significant development. The changes mostly occurred in three things, namely (1) the transformation of media institutions into large-scale commercial concerns; (2) the globalisation of communication; and (3) the development of electronically mediated forms of communication. 3 Through mergers, take-overs and diversification, media enterprises became mightier and bigger. The big change also happened in the ownership of the media industries such as the purchase of Tri-Star Pictures by Sony, MGM/ United Artists by Pathe SA, an Italian company and the purchase of 20th Century Fox by Rupert Murdoch. 4 Internationalisation and globalisation of media Before I discuss further I would like to differentiate between internationalisation and globalisation of media since these two terms have a slight difference. The concept of internationalisation of media refers to “the process by which the ownership, structure, production, distribution, or content of a country’s media is influenced by foreign media interests, culture and markets.” 5 It can be noticed from the perspective of the country that imports foreign media culture and from that of the exporting country as well. It is more specifically dealing with two or several countries that are involved within the internationalisation. For example between Indonesia and China, in which Indonesia imported TV programmes from China or vice versa. So that if there is an effect or influence that is caused by the internationalisation, then it will only influence these two countries. Therefore the effect or influence is more specific and limited in its scope. Herman, Edward S., & McChesney, Robert W., (1997), The Global Media: the new missionaries of corporate 2 capitalism, Cassell, London, p.1. 3 Thompson, John B., (2000), The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media, Polity Press, Cambridge, p. 76. 4 Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle (1997) ‘The Global and the Local in International Communications’ in Curran, James and Gurevitch, Michael, eds, Mass Media and Society, Arnold, London, p.185. 5 Chan, Joseph Man (1994), “Media Internationalisation in China: Process and Tensions” in Journal of Communication Vol. 44, p.71.
    • 3 Whilst globalisation of media is related with the making of media become universal that it tends to ignore national boundaries of a country. And it is seen as “multi-directional and multi-dimensional set of process”. 6 For instance like Hollywood. Nearly every country in the world imports films from Hollywood, so it could be seen that the effect of Hollywood is considered universal. However, still there are places that lack of facilities of media that cause people unable to access media. It is because the distribution of media is still not absolutely covering every corner of the world. So, it means that the word ‘global’ does not always mean universal. As it is argued by Sreberny-Mohammadi that “The global trend is in place, yet by no means ‘achieved’. Global still does not mean universal.” 7 Local/national media enterprises that have been transformed into transnational corporations (TNC) will be easier in exporting or importing media products. The growth of TNCs was among others signified with the emergence of media moguls like Rupert Murdoch, Silvio Berlusconi and Henry Luce with the Warner Brothers. They have created corporate structures that span across continents, handle print and film production and also control distribution facilities like satellites and cable networks. 8 The internationalisation of media within this essay should be comprehended differently from media imperialism. It is stated by Boyd-Barrett and Lee that “Media internationalisation is different from media imperialism. 9 The former means that local or national media of every country has potentiality to influence other nations. Even the weak countries also have that possibility as the western superpowers as well. Whilst media imperialism is only one form of media internationalisation. 10 The internationalisation of the media bears possibility of carrying foreign cultural values that might be disadvantageous or even harmful to the existence of Barker, Chris (1997), Global Television: An Introduction, Blackwell, Oxford, p.5. 6 Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle (1997) ‘The Global and the Local in International 7 Communications’ in Curran, James and Gurevitch, Michael, eds, Mass Media and Society, Arnold, London, p.183. 8 Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle (1997) ‘The Global and the Local in International Communications’ in Curran, James and Gurevitch, Michael, eds, Mass Media and Society, Arnold, London, p.183. 9 Boyd-Barret and Lee in Chan, Joseph Man (1994), “Media Internationalisation in China: Processes and Tensions” in Journal of Communication, Vol.44., p.71. 10 Ibid.
    • 4 national or local culture. The influences of the internationalisation of the media have at least three major fields, namely on politics, economics and culture. Within this essay I would only focus on culture and little bit on economy. We can not just accept that the internationalisation of media tends to undermine national cultures. It appeals many opinions of many analysts that I would discuss within this essay. Analysis Capitalists modernity have been expanding their multinational media industries that span across the globe. Besides the phenomenon of the more increasing number of audience and television sets owned by people we should also look at the changing character of television, the growing organisation of television which is now relatively more commercial rather than public-service. 11 If we pay close attention to most of television stations nowadays they have undergone many changes both the TV contents/programmes and technological advancement of their equipment since television is not only as technology but cultural form as well. 12 Every medium will always carry influence that might have impact toward audience particularly and social milieu in general. Because most big media industries are mostly dominated by western countries, then there emerge an anxiety that media products from western countries will flow more freely to other countries by the internationalisation of the media. It does open more chance of the intrusion of foreign cultures through the imported media products such as television programmes and advertisements. This anxiety makes sense since many western countries, especially the United States sells many of its media products much cheaper to the Third World countries than in the United States itself. For example based on the study done by Livingston in Jamaica, about 75% of the contents of local television stations comprises foreign media content (in particular US).” 13 This such internationalisation takes place only when foreign media products are widely Barker, Chris (1997), Global Television: An Introduction, Blackwell, Oxford, p.4. 11 Ibid.,p.5 12 13 White, Livingston A. (2001), “Development imperatives for local television programming and production in Jamaica: Identifying appropriate and feasible alternatives”, paper submitted for presentation at the 42nd Annual International Studies Associations Convention (International Communication Section), Chicago, Illinois, 20-24, February 2001.
    • 5 perceived by audience to be more interesting than domestic ones. 14 Even, in Thailand, there is a tendency of importing cultural content and technology and develop local imitations… borrowing from foreign (mainly Western) cultures. 15 - Cultural Imperialism The term cultural imperialism was popular in the 1970s. 16 Even though this term has been obsolete, this issue is still up-to-date. According to Herman and McChesney cultural imperialism is defined as “the domination of entertainment programming across the Third World that implanted western values on audiences.” 17 It is one of the three intellectual paradigms that have been dominating the field of International Communication since the 1960s, they are: ‘communications and development’, ‘cultural imperialism’ itself, and ‘cultural pluralism’. 18 However, in this essay the writer would like to highlight merely the ‘cultural imperialism’. This term is often discussed whenever theorists debate on globalisation and internationalisation of the media. Cultural imperialism refers to ‘dependency’ paradigm that was initially developed in Latin America and it is building on other critiques of imperialism. 19 It is argued by the specific model of ‘cultural imperialism’ that the international technology transfer and media hardware combined with the flows of ‘software’ of cultural products virtually strengthened dependency and prevented true Chan, Joseph Man (1994), “Media Internationalisation in China: Processes and Tensions” in Journal 14 of Communication, Vol.44., p.73. 15 Servaes, J. (1999), Communication for Development – One World, Multiple Cultures, Hampton Press, New York, p. 225. 16 McAnany, Emile G. and Wilkinson, Kenton T. (1992), ‘From Cultural Imperislists to Takeover Victims? Questions on Hollywood’s Buyouts from the Critical Tradition’ in Communication Research, Vol.19 No 6, December 1992 724-748, Sage Publications, Inc., London, p.725. 17 Herman, Edward S., & McChesney, Robert W., (1997), The Global Media: the new missionaries of corporate capitalism, Cassell, London, p.23-4. 18 Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle (1997) ‘The Global and the Local in International Communications’ in Curran, James and Gurevitch, Michael, eds, Mass Media and Society, Arnold, London, p.178. 19 Gunder-Frank, A. (1964) in Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle (1997) ‘The Global and the Local in International Communications’ in Curran, James and Gurevitch, Michael, eds, Mass Media and Society, Arnold, London, p.179.
    • 6 development. 20 It is mostly undergone by the Third World countries that import media products from western countries. Cultural imperialism is comprehended as two things, firstly in terms of the imposition of one national culture upon another with the media seen as the carriers of cultural meanings that penetrate and dominate the cultures of a nation. And other version states that “cultural imperialism is represented by a set of economic and cultural processes that are implicated in the reproduction of global capitalism.” 21 The process of technological exchange and adoption bears the same risk as adopting or importing cultural product from other country. Behind it lies the possibility of carrying an influence that might undermine the national cultures values of the country that adopts or imports it. Countries that commonly have the risk of receiving cultural products from other countries are the Third World ones. Even though ‘cultural imperialism’ also deals with exporting media products to other countries or vice versa, the United States still dominates. That’s why it is frequently connected with America when a certain media culture is adopted. As Tunstall says: The cultural imperialism thesis claims that authentic, traditional and local culture in many parts of the world is being battered out of existence by the indiscriminate dumping of large quantities of slick commercial and media products, mainly from the United States. 22 Moreover, Sreberny Mohammadi adds that western cultural values are often made identical to ‘American’ values, for instance like consumerism and individualism. And they are implicitly expressed in various media genre and also through advertising that are ultimately changing Third World cultural milieu. 23 are exported and they Transnational corporations are expert in marketing their media products to all over the world. They will use any strategy to approach audience, so that audience will not be aware of what they consume, do or use. For instance Hollywood films, they are Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle (1997) ‘The Global and the Local in International 20 Communications’ in Curran, James and Gurevitch, Michael, eds, Mass Media and Society, Arnold, London, p.179. 21 Barker, Chris (1999), TV, Globalization & Cultureal Identities: Issues in cultural and media studies, Open University Press, Philadelphia, p.37. See also Tomlinson, John (1991), p.5. 22 Tomlinson, John (1991), Cultural Imperialism: A Critical Introduction, Printer Publishers, London, p.8. 23 Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle (1997) ‘The Global and the Local in International Communications’ in Curran, James and Gurevitch, Michael, eds, Mass Media and Society, Arnold, London, p.179.
    • 7 U.S products that have been spread out world wide. And most of audiences do not care whether the Hollywood film will have impact to them or not. They know that they watch American film, but they have just taken it for granted. It is also supported by Naficy (1993) in Varan that “audiences may think with American cultural products but they do not think American.” 24 The forms and effects of imported cultural products There are a lot of forms of influence and effects of imported cultural products that are caused by the internationalisation of media. The cultural forms and values we are now confronted with in our daily life and social milieu are probably not genuinely from our own country. Many things have altered without our recognition. It can be identified that remote cultures now become accessible via various electronic media such as television and radio. 25 Television medium mostly became inevitably a window of foreign culture transmission. It can be found out in our daily life, from the way of life until the goods or products consumed or used by people. - Television Programmes As the consequence of the internationalisation of the television medium, TV stations (particularly commercial televisions) are beginning to import TV programs from other countries or export their TV programs abroad. Moreover, with the emergence of satellites and cable distribution of programming have dramatically increased the number of channels available in many countries in the 1990s. 26 And nearly everybody could watch or access satellite TV through the dish from their own homes as long as they have the facilities. Soap operas are one of the most favourite TV programs at the moment. Especially those that are broadcast in Asian countries, either soap operas which are produced domestically or soap operas that are manufactured abroad or imported Varan, Duane (1998), ‘The Cultural Erosion Metaphor and the Transcultural Impact of Media 24 Systems’ in Journal of Communication, Spring 1998, Vol 48, p.67. 25 Barker, Chris (1999), TV, Globalization and Cultural Identities: Issues in culture and media studies, Open University Press, Philadelphia, p.36. 26 Herman, Edward S., & McChesney, Robert W., (1997), The Global Media: the new missionaries of corporate capitalism, Cassell, London, p.45.
    • 8 from other countries. It was pointed out by Antola and Rogers 27 that telenovelas from Spain and Latin America in the USA has been called ‘reverse cultural imperialism’, because it shows an example of how contemporary cultural flows reverse the historic role of imperialism. For instance the major Brazilian network exports telenovelas to 128 countries. 28 And its production outnumbered any other stations in the world. Formats of foreign television programmes also most likely becomes the threshold of foreign cultures. This kind of TV programmes reproduction can be much cheaper than if a broadcaster has to buy the final version of programmes. For instance, Who wants to be a millionaire format has already been sold to 50 countries. 29 Some of them are broadcast in original format but some have been altered. Or sometimes the formats of television programs are adjusted to local culture to meet the taste of local audience. Many quizzes formats have been imported from the United States and United Kingdom, such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Candid Camera, America’s Funniest Home Videos. It is noted by Hamelink that “local programmes are produced according to US formats. Even small television networks in poor countries unquestioningly follow the western example of broadcasting as many hours as possible.” 30 Other evidence was also stated by Ouderkirk. 31 He describes that whilst she was climbing up the highest Guatemalan mountains in search of some distant and authentic Qeche Indians, he was hearing some stirring music which as she approached was in fact the old Beatles tapes. Antola and Rogers in Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle (1997) ‘The Global and the Local in 27 International Communications’ in Curran, James and Gurevitch, Michael, eds, Mass Media and Society, Arnold, London, p.180. 28 Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle (1997) ‘The Global and the Local in International Communications’ in Curran, James and Gurevitch, Michael, eds, Mass Media and Society, Arnold, London, p.180. 29 Freedman, Des (2001), Who Wants to be a Millionaire?: The Politics of Television Exports, Paper presented to the International Communication section of the International Studies Association Convention, Chicago, 20-24 February 2001, p.15. 30 Hamelink, C.J. (1983), Cultural Autonomy in Global Communications: Planning National Information Policy, Longman, New York, p.3. 31 Ouderkirk in Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle (1997) ‘The Global and the Local in International Communications’ in Curran, James and Gurevitch, Michael, eds, Mass Media and Society, Arnold, London, p.186.
    • 9 - Films domination Aside from what I have described above, films are also one of the forms of cultures that might be undermined by foreign cultures. It is Hollywood that dominates nearly all the films in all over the world. After its decline in the late 1950s, Hollywood began to expand and build its power again in the middle of the 1960s. 32 Since its resurgence Hollywood became the biggest films exporter on nearly the whole earth. It has become the big transnational corporation (TNC) that is very difficult to be defeated. Still as the consequence of the successful vertical integration of Hollywood, the flow of films distribution around the world could be strongly felt. Every where most of the films we watch are Hollywood-manufactured. Conclusion Based on the analysis given, the internationalisation of the media is more limited between or among several countries in which the internationalisation occurs. And it could become the threshold of the entering new cultures from other countries. However, it can not be proven that the internationalisation of media tends to undermine national cultures. The examples which are taken from some researches do not show direct influence that might have impact to national cultures. It shows the dominance of foreign culture in one country. And up to now, the concerns about cultural dominance, or whether it is called imperialism or hegemony is still ongoing issue in many countries. 33 Even though many media products are produced by U.S. corporations, it does not mean that they will be able to dominate or even replace a local culture easily. At least it is proven in Brazil that its national and local television programmes keep on going (especially the enduring success of its telenovelas) though the U.S. programming has come into Latin American life. 34 At last, I would like to argue that actually internationalisation of media can not be judged directly that it tends to Dominick, J.R. (1996) The Dynamics of Mass Communication. New York: Mc Graw-Hill Publishing 32 Company, p.264 33 McAnany, Emile G. and Wilkinson, Kenton T. (1992), ‘From Cultural Imperislists to Takeover Victims? Questions on Hollywood’s Buyouts from the Critical Tradition’ in Communication Research, Vol.19 No 6, December 1992 724-748, Sage Publications, Inc., London, p.730.
    • 10 undermine national cultures. Still there are effects and influence, but they only generate cultural diffusion between countries that in turn it will become hybrid culture.. Ibid,p.734. 34
    • 11 BIBLIOGRAPHY Chan, Joseph Man (1994), ‘Media Internationalization in China: Process and Tensions’ in Journal of Communication, Vol. 44. Curran, James and Gurevitch, Michael, eds., Mass Media and Society, Arnold, London. Barker, Chris (1999), TV, Globalization & Cultural Identities: Issues in cultural and media studies, Open University Press, Philadelphia. Barker, Martin in Tomlinson, John (1991), Cultural Imperialism: A Critical Introduction, Printer Publishers, London. Dominick, J.R. (1992) The Dynamics of Mass Communication. New York: Mc Graw-Hill Publishing Company. Freedman, Des (2001), Who Wants to be a Millionaire?: The Politics of Television Exports, Paper presented to the International Communication section of the International Studies Association Convention, Chicago, 20-24 February 2001. Hamelink, C.J. (1983), Cultural Autonomy in Global Communications: Planning National Information Policy, Longman, New York. Herman, Edward S., & McChesney, Robert W., (1997), The Global Media: the new missionaries of corporate capitalism, Cassell, London. McLuhan, Marshal (1964), Understanding Media, Routledge, London. Servaes, J. (1999), Communication for Development – One World, Multiple Cultures, Hampton Press, New York. Thompson, John B., (2000), The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media, Polity Press, Cambridge. Tomlinson, John (1991), Cultural Imperialism: A Critical Introduction, Printer Publishers, London. White, Livingston A. (2001), “Development imperatives for local television programming and production in Jamaica: Identifying appropriate and feasible alternatives”, paper submitted for presentation at the 42nd Annual International Studies Associations Convention (International Communication Section), Chicago, Illinois, 20-24, February 2001. Varan, Duane (1998), ‘The Cultural Erosion Metaphor and the Transcultural Impact of Media Systems’ in Journal of Communication, Spring 1998, Vol 48.