Undergraduate Media Essay

Question

Giddens, A, 2009, Sociology 6th Edition, Cambridge: Polity Press _____Lechner, FJ 2009, Globalization: The Making of World Society, Malden: Wiley-Blackwell _______
Lechner, FJ. & Boli, J., 2008, The Globalization Reader 3rd Edition, Malden: Blackwell Publishing ________ Steger, M., 2009, Globalization: A Vey Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp71-83

Descriptions

The essay is 2500 words only. focus mainly on the question and answer it. in the main body please focus on

  1. Globalization of media forms
  2. Globalization of content
  3. Globalization of ownership,
  4. Media Supercompanies,
  5. Media Imperialism,
  6. Media quality,
  7. media power

Answer

Title: To what extent does the growth of ‘global media’ threaten cultural diversity?

Contents

Introduction. 2

Globalization of Media Forms. 3

Globalization of Content 4

Globalization of Ownership. 6

Media Supercompanies. 7

Media Imperialism.. 8

Media Quality and Media Power 9

Conclusion. 10

References. 11

Introduction

Over the last two decades, the world has witnesses a rapid process of media globalization. A flourishing global market for media outlets has emerged primarily because of developments in internet and digital technologies. Many English-language television channels such as CNN have continued to gain a foothold on the global stage (Lechner, 2009). During this time, Western media outlets have emerged as the most dominant participants in the media globalization process. This trend has led to the emergence of concerns about media imperialism. The concept of media imperialism is closely related to that of cultural imperialism. In this regard, the conventional view is that Western media is responsible for the ongoing process of imposing Western cultural practices on the rest of the world.

The debate on the impact of the growth of global media on cultural diversity is ongoing (Rantanen, 2005). In this research, a major concern is that media globalization poses a threat to cultural diversity (Rantanen, 2005). This view is supported by the emergence of many Western media conglomerates that are accused of using their immense power to promote cultural imperialism. These worries are not far-fetched because media houses across the world play a critical role in shaping culture. The aim of this paper is to investigate the extent to which the growth of ‘global media’ threatens cultural diversity. The paper is based on the ‘media imperialism’ thesis, whereby ‘global media’ poses a threat to cultural diversity because of a growing tendency by large media conglomerates to suppress minority cultures through the imposition of Western media content.

Globalization of Media Forms

            Globalization is a multidimensional process that affects all spheres of human life. Media forms have not only been affected by globalization, they have also been part of this process. When media outlets expand their geographical reach to serve a global audience, they transform themselves into crucial agents of globalization. The ongoing process of globalization of media forms has transformed the media into a melting point of diversity cultural practices (Giddens, 2009). Even when media houses go global, they spend a lot of time discussing national issues. This means that the international audience is compelled to interpret different phenomena from the viewpoint of the home country of the media house. Cumulatively, this process of media globalization has led to greater cultural exchanges (Giddens, 2009).

            The Internet has emerged as the most powerful platform through which diverse media forms spread on a global scale. This situation has greatly contributed to the emergence of the notion of ‘new global media’. New media takes the form of electronic technologies that deviate from traditional media platforms such as television, radio, and print media. These electronic technologies are mostly embedded on the existing internet infrastructure in the form of multimedia channels. Examples of these multimedia channels include Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. The term ‘social media’ is commonly used to refer to these new channels because they bring people together with a view to share ideas, experiences, fun moments, and even news. Since the Internet has become widely accessible across the world, it has become easy for people who live in different countries to not only gain instant access to news but also to report about breaking news in their localities.

            The current discourse on media globalization may be traced to the introduction of the concept of ‘global village’ (Ritzer, 2010). One may expect far-reaching cultural implications to unfold when the global society comes together through the power of the cyberspace to form a global village. Today, these cultural implications take the form of changes in the way the media shapes individuals’ cultural subjectivities both at the local level and on the world stage. In today’s world of capitalism, the threat of cultural imperialism through media cannot be ignored. This is a realistic expectation considering that large-scale social institutions and structures have played a significant role in the emergence of the media in its globalized form.

A huge number of the global new-media conglomerates that are at the forefront of the current wave of globalization trace their origin to the Western World (Rantanen, 2005). For example, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Google, CNN, and BBC are all Western companies. All of them attract huge global audiences, with Facebook leading the way in the revolutionary world of social media. As they continue to operate in a capitalistic context, these companies are under tremendous pressure to impose the cultural preferences of home-country users to the rest of the world. For instance, the media outlets are strategically positioned to introduce the Western capitalism-oriented consumer culture to the rest of the world. Capitalism is one large-scale social structure that has greatly influenced the emergence of media globalization. As a result, it is worthwhile to infer that the ongoing process of media globalization to pose a significant threat to cultural diversity.

Globalization of Content

Media content has become globalized in recent years. Incident, this trend has tended to work in favour of large Western media outlets. Consequently, content that reflects Western cultural preferences continues to be perceived to be synonymous with all facets of globalization. This is a reflection of the prevailing imbalances in the distribution of content by media houses in the present digital era. The ideal scenario would be one where all cultural groups operate on equal playground in regards to the distribution of media content. In the context of the current unequal system, minority cultural groups feel threatened by the globalization of media content.

Paradoxically, new media, which is a key pillar of media imperialism, is also being used to distribute content that reflects opposition to West-oriented global messages (Lechner & Boli, 2008). Through new media, minority cultural groups can present local content that easily redefines global content. In a world that is dominated by a one-sided, Western view of culture, local content that is produced by indigenous cultural groups in far-off developing countries can help reignite the debate on the need for equality in the presentation of content in mainstream media outlets. According to Ritzer (2010), opposition to unequal distribution of media content is likely to be more powerful in new media, especially the Internet.

The Internet is a pervasive platform on which the applicability of all digital technologies has become a reality. This applicability is an integral part of the ongoing ‘new media’ project. In today’s internet age, anyone can produce content that is potentially consumable in just the same way that videos produced by professional TV journalists are routinely aired during prime time news. New mobile technologies that support the production of professional-quality media content by non-professionals provide numerous opportunities for cultural expression by minority cultural groups. The negative side of this development is that these new content-production capabilities may not bring about any significant change by way of cultural expression. This is simply because the capabilities they are part of the ongoing system of domination of the global media business by Western conglomerates.

Globalization of Ownership

The ongoing globalization of media forms and content has unfolded because media ownership is being globalized as well. When the television gained prominence as the most pervasive media form, success companies operating at the national level started expanding their operations to cover the international market. These international media companies were responsible for the radical transformation of the media landscape in subsequent years.

During the early 1990s, aggressive private media companies started exploiting existing cable and satellite technologies to broadcast content to homes in foreign countries. In many cases, this globalization of media ownership has pitted home-grown companies that promote local culture against large conglomerates that facilitate access to foreign media content. For example, in India, a local company by the name Zee was locked in stiff competition with Star Plus, a company owned by world-renowned media mogul Rupert Murdoch (Lechner, 2009). Whereas regional providers were a source of diversity as far as content it concerned, they also posed a threat to local cultural practices. Although the importation of foreign content by these large companies increased variety for Indians, they also took the limelight from pertinent issues that have traditionally led to the country’s cultural heritage. Consequently, the Indian society has become increasingly westernized because media trends and developments are conventionally influenced by the operations of Western media conglomerates.

Fortunately, many foreign media owners have recognized the importance of adapting their content to local cultures in order to attract a wide audience (Lechner & Boli, 2008). In this adaptation process, the companies simply produce local versions of famous international programs. Such programs provide answers to pertinent questions about local cultures, thereby helping to raise awareness about these cultures on the global arena. However, the problematic aspect is that such adaptations may not be accurate. This is simply because exact cultural parallels between two geographical regions may not exist. For example, many pertinent aspects of Chinese culture may be lost in the process of adapting a popular British television program to the Chinese audience. Such an adaptation may be based on a faulty or stereotypical understanding of Chinese culture. Whenever old sensibilities that have continued to bring the Chinese people together in a close-nit cultural fabric for generations are omitted from such adaptations, cultural diversity is said to be under threat from globalization of ownership.

Media Supercompanies

            The power of media supercompanies is also well reflected in statistics. In 2006, two-thirds of the communications revenue generated across the world came from 7 media conglomerates (Steger, 2009). Moreover, between 1999 and 2006, the volume of mergers increased from $100 billion to $300 billion (Steger, 2009). It is also striking to note that the five leading international media corporations in 2010 were all American. These supercompanies included Comcast/NBC Universal, News Corp Ltd., The Walt Disney Company, Time Warner Inc., and Viacom Inc.

One of the owners of the most famous media supercompanies is Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch rose to fame after establishing powerful media companies that exert tremendous influence in many Western countries today. In the UK, Murdoch’s media empire has revolutionized the country’s media industry. Murdoch’s influence in the country’s politics is so strong that top political figures often seek to align themselves with his media houses as a way of seeking favourable coverage and minimizing media backlash. Murdoch’s case shows that media supercompanies provide a powerful platform through which powerful entrepreneurs in the media industry can influence the political, socio-economic, and cultural affairs of a country.

             Transnational media companies own a disproportionately large share of responsibility for most of the media content that is being consumed by TV viewers around the world (Rantanen, 2005). Incidentally, this content facilitates not just an objective conveyance of news but also numerous cultural undertones. The resulting cultural influence can be far-reaching particularly in contexts where the transnational companies dominate the media business in a country. In such contexts, citizens hardly get an opportunity to reflect on their cultures vis-à-vis those of foreign countries. The imposing presence of the supercompanies creates the impression that foreign cultures are more fashionable than local cultures.  In some cases, this imposing presence manifests itself in the fact that these companies operate as oligopolies in some countries by simply securing huge contracts to deliver their own cable and satellite connections to every home (McChesney & Schiller, 2003). Consequently, these large media companies are seen to be promoting media imperialism.

Media Imperialism

Media imperialism is characterized mainly by the so-called First world outlook. In this regard, media houses influence people to look at news and entertainment from the viewpoint of the developed world. Media imperialism is primarily associated with the USA. US media is normally accused of exercising cultural control through the adoption of the First world approach in all their content. In fact, US media companies go beyond the adoption of this approach by encouraging and influencing the rest of the world to rely on this worldview as well. The US has succeeded in its quest for cultural influence through the media primarily because it is home to the world’s leading media supercompanies.

Media imperialism has greatly contributed to the present phenomenon of cultural homogenization. In this case, media corporations are increasingly employing imperialist tactics to shape people’s identities and values, thereby posing a threat to their cultural subjectivities. The corporations are also in the forefront in efforts to structure people’s desires.  These conglomerates not only bring all the TV programs and music that people around the world want, they also exercise extreme forms of media control. The so-called Global North, led by the US, is responsible for not only promoting the First world outlook but also controlling the cultural ‘narrative’. This is a demonstration of an extreme, albeit covert, form of media control, which poses a serious threat to cultural diversity in the present context of globalization.

Media Quality and Media Power

            Media quality has also changed significantly in the era of globalization. On a positive note, the world has become a better place to live and share experiences in harmonious existence because of the emergence of the internet and social media. This situation has led to the emergences of a new global culture characterized by shared values. It is necessary for media companies to promote practices that ensure that these shared values do not benefit the First world at the expense of economically disadvantaged cultural groups of the developing world. On a negative note, increasingly commercialization of the media threatens to degrade its quality. When media conglomerates distort the global cultural ‘narrative’ for selfish financial gains, they subsequently degrade media quality. Consequently, the goal of a global society characterized by shared values and cultural diversity easily becomes a mirage.

            The promotion of a world of shared values is a good thing while cultural homogenization is a bad thing. In the present unequal world that is dominated by media supercompanies that promote cultural imperialism, media quality is highly likely to deteriorate through unbalanced news reporting, cultural control, ‘closed’ local media, and the tendency by states to retreat from contemporary global media. Similarly, the deterioration of media quality arising from commercialization is increasingly leading to the emergence of a world that is media-based rather than reality-based.

            Media power manifests itself in the global context in many ways. The most profound ways include political influence, self-promotion, monopoly, censorship, and bias. Cultural groups that produce the most powerful media conglomerates tend to have an edge over the rest of the world. In situations where media imperialism flourishes, such media outlets tend to broadcast news in a manner that raises the profiles of their cultural environments, thereby disadvantaging other cultural groups. Today, global media power has tilted in favour of Western societies. This phenomenon is demonstrated by biased reporting that favours the West over the rest of the world, the adoption of the First world view, and the advancement of contemporary Western political rhetoric such the war on terror. Such media power poses serious constraints on the ability by local media houses to adopt a localised view, thereby posing a threat to cultural diversity

Conclusion

            This paper has discussed various aspects of the growth of ‘global media’ and the threat they pose to cultural diversity. Global media has undoubtedly opened up societies, leading to greater interaction and subsequent global harmony. However, these benefits may be overshadowed by the problem of media imperialism, whereby global media conglomerates pose a threat to cultural diversity through media control, biased reporting, and the promotion of a First world view. Globalization of media forms, content, and media ownership is a good thing. However, these positive aspects of global media may be detrimental to cultural diversity if they continue creating a media environment where cultural exchanges occur on a not-so-level playground characterized by the domination of all major media platforms by Western media conglomerates.

References

Giddens, A 2009, Sociology, 6th Edition, Polity Press, Cambridge.

Lechner, F & Boli, J 2008, The Globalization Reader 3rd Edition, Blackwell Publishing, Malden.

Lechner, F 2009, Globalization: The Making of World Society, Wiley-Blackwell, Malden.

McChesney, R & Schiller, D 2003, The Political Economy of International Communications Foundations for the Emerging Global Debate about Media Ownership and Regulation, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Geneva.

Rantanen, T 2005, The media and globalization, Sage Publications, London.

Steger, M 2009, Globalization: A Vey Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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