Historically emerging from a few local television networks, the international media has recently transformed into a vast community full of resources and workforce, with the Western media nearly spread across the world (McChesney 190. Despite proving significant in spreading important news to citizens across the continents, media globalisation has resulted to serious discourses on what analysts now refer to as media imperialism. People have not taken lightly the dominance of the Western media, especially the protrusion of the American media into the developing countries, where the media infrastructure and expertise is still immature. Such perceptions concerning the ascendancy of the Westerners over the global media has attracted controversial debates from media scholars and professionals. Using different opinionated arguments and facts, several pieces of literature have emerged to contribute to the growing discourse about media imperialism (Jenkins 37). This essay discusses the major issues concerning the media imperialism debate, presents major arguments and approaches, discusses evidences that support different views, and analyses some theoretical assumptions available.
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Major Issues at Stake in the Media Imperialism Debate
Whereas media forms an important global tool for universal communication, where important aspects of leadership, culture, environment, and economy are in regular discussion, media imperialism is creating global controversies. Jenkins states that the earliest notion towards internationalising media based on the idea of improving economy through corporate globalisation, international competition, state decentralisation, and trade liberalisation (36). With the United States and the United Kingdom as the economic giants behind these agendas, the Western media quickly proliferated into the developing nations. After years of tremendous growth, media imperialism under the influence of the Westerners seems to attract controversies on the important issues surrounding the globalised economies (Jenkins 39). The main debatable issues involving media imperialism include economic unfairness, trade, cultural manipulations, and political intolerances. Jan states that most underprivileged nations eyeing for globalisation have an inner fear about the economic and political supremacy of the Westerners and their alleged global influence on the most important international issues of development (72).
International Trade and Media Imperialism
A commonly argued issue concerning the behaviours of the Westerners and their media imperialism practices is the takeover on the media business by the giant economies, especially the United States and United Kingdom (Sabir 283). The Western countries have virtually dominated and controlled the international media trade using their powerful broadcasting technologies and skilled professionals that seem to lack in the developing nations. Communication and media analysts have noticed that the Westerners frequently use the advantage of their sophisticated media infrastructure and personnel to control the young broadcasting companies (Sabir 288). The American and British media companies have ventured into the interiors of the third world countries, while either imposing strict broadcasting policies or completely displacing the local media. Supported by the modern technologies that have proven efficient in the global broadcasting business, the American and the British broadcasting, filming, photography, and print media have exploited the major economic hubs in the developing nations (Jan 67). Such turnarounds have created inequalities in the ownership of the media space.
Apart from assisting in the imperialistic culture exportation of the Western values to manipulate the underdeveloped and developing nations, the Western media unfairly displaced the local media and dominated the telecommunication industry in the developing nations (Jan 66). Although the developing and underdeveloped nations need the mutual support from the developed Western economies to set up media infrastructure, the Western media seems to use its technological prowess to conquer the local markets. The Disney Broadcasting Company has extensive networks for broadcasting, printing, media, and internet infrastructure that have invaded the international markets and left very little commercial space for other companies to integrate their systems (Meyer 120). In the five top commercial Asian markets, Walt Disney has virtually displaced all the local channels with its thirty, powerful radio stations, eleven-cabled television channels, and several sub-channels that regularly transmit Disney content. Internationally, Walt Disney Company has thousands of television channels in the developing and developed economies, and seventeen internet sites that are very domineering.
Unfairness in trade liberalisation
The United States and other giant Western nations seem to enjoy virtually every aspect of globalisation ranging from political dominance, cultural influence, to trade benefits. The growing upheaval concerning media imperialism is the aspect of trade liberalisation that seem unfair, due to the inability of the minor media platforms to penetrate the developed nations (Omoera 7). Media has increasingly proven to be an efficient business marketing and promotional tool that multinational companies frequently use to spread their product and service information. The vastly growing influence of the portability of the computing and telecommunication tools that place Westerners at better transforming chances is creating a controversy (Omoera 2). The powerful media of the Westerners easily transfer commercial content about their multinational companies, consequently supporting their marketing agendas. For the underdeveloped and their growing media, penetrating into the advanced Western nations using their immature media, is a demanding task (Omoera 5). Such concerns are critical to the global relationships on the international trade.
A good example of the influence of media imperialism on the international trade and growth of multinational industries is the clear dominance of the Walt Disneyland broadcasting media across Asia, Arab, and Africa (Omoera 3). The greatest facets of globalisation are trade and business among multinational firms where the exchange of professional expertise, technology, skills, and knowledge of industrial growth occurs. The American and European media have assisted their multinational corporations to claim enormous commercial space through their superior television programming skills and their experience in computer and internet technologies (Xie 5). Walt Disney Broadcasters, with the support from other world web platforms owned by Americans and Europeans, have energised the commercial urge of corporations from America and Europe to occupy large commercial space in the transnational business paradigm. Omoera asserts that the controversy is that the developing and the underdeveloped economies lack the capability to explore their regional commercial space, or even the slim business opportunities in the Western nations, which is an unfair trade (9).
Cultural Manipulation and Media Imperialism
The greatest plight often disturbing the Asians and the Arabs is the domineering aspect of the Western media that is consuming other cultures (Jan 69). There is a rising conflict in the manner at which the Americans and the British are using their global media coverage advantages to homogenize their culture and displace the cultural values of individuals in the underdeveloped economies. According to Chadha and Kavoori, a small group of the Westerners with established media infrastructures have not only dominated the international media trade, but have also utilized their media to broadcast their particular economic and cultural values (417). Jenkins states that the developed media from the established Western nations have unfairly instigated the spread of the American and the British cultures of consumerism and individualism to the people of the developing economies (34). From the popular terms Americanisation and Western civilization, the Western media has fuelled the expansion and dominance of the Western culture of business, social life, and economic lifestyle.
Numerous cultural products and lifestyles have penetrated and invaded the developing economies through their global decentralised media, and displaced the valuable cultural norms of the people of the third world nations (Meyer 119). A closer observation of the cultural trends currently dominating countries of the developing world reveals that the dressing codes, the eating behaviours, and the social lifestyles of these individuals closely match with those of the Americans and the Europeans. The increased dominance of the Western media on the internet platforms and on the broadcasting centres has influenced individuals to cease from adoring their cultural norms and adopt those of the Westerners (Meyer 115). The arts of singing, fashioning, dancing, and educating people across the developing nations have shifted from the traditional styles towards the imposed Western mode. Advertising, filming, and television programming practices of the media in the developing nations seem to follow the Western fashion, and often display the Western media content. Hence, the developing nations are losing their indigenous cultures.
Political and Economic Capitalism
The Media imperialism of the 21st century seems to motivate the ongoing political disagreements between the Westerners and the political giants from the Asian and the Arab economies (Meyer 123). Media imperialism eminent through the adoption of the Western practices and cultures has resulted to political and economic discourses among nations. According to McChesney, there has been an existing political intolerance between the Arab nations and the Asian communities, with both of them against the political and economic influence of the Westerners especially the Americans (189). Media imperialism predominantly practiced by the Western nations seems to favour the Western economies politically, with their urge for democratic leadership felt across the developing countries. Meyer (113) postulates that the Disney channel is one of the famous broadcasting channels notorious for promulgating media imperialism across the weak nations of the Asian, African and Arab zones. Disney displays several political issues intended for political mileage of the Western economic giants.
The unfair media dominance of the American and European companies instigated by their diverse media platforms has resulted to exportation of the American management cultures and political norms to the immature economies (McChesney 189). The cultural imperialism that the Western media has supported is eminent in the case of Walt Disney Company, which has frequently attempted to export and successfully enforced its own management and leadership culture in the developing nations. Meyer states that, “among the largest exporters of the American culture and management practices is the Walt Disney Company” (117). The leadership cultures of the Walt Disney have proliferated into the Asian States through the Tokyo Disneyland, the Hong Kong Disneyland, and the Australian Disneyland, where native cultures are diminishing. Meyer states that throughout its evolution and protrusion into the Asian economies, the Walt Disney Company has operated through an archetypal control-based approach on these economies, where it has registered a successful exportation of the American leadership cultures (137).
Different Approaches and Major Arguments
Market capitalism is a notion that has heightened arguments in the manner at which countries would consider fairness in the bilateral trades (Stadler 158). The media imperialism of the Westerners that make their multinationals marketable to the developing world is a burning issue for most of the growing economies of the Asian continent seeking similar success in the underdeveloped markets. According to Meyer, China is the biggest opponent of the imperialistic behaviour of the Western media because it ranks among the nations that are seeking transnational growth in the underdeveloped nations (134). The perceptions of the rapidly developing nations in the Asian and Arab economies is that the Americans and Europeans are deliberately using their powerful media tools to manipulate the underdeveloped markets and unfairly displace the cultural values of the native dwellers (Chadha and Kavoori 421). The media imperialism of the Westerners is a secret tool of enforcing the Western culture of social lifestyle, leadership, and product consumerism.
The United States and the United Kingdom are the giants that purportedly campaigned for the liberalisation of the international trade to allow transnational trade between multinations. This meant “the elimination of the artificial barriers to trade and other distortions, such as tariffs, quotas, and subsidies that countries use to protect their domestic industries from foreign competition” (Jan 70). The Americans and Europeans used this advantage to scatter their commercial media through powerful infrastructure and technologies, and seem to have monopolised the telecommunication industry. The plight the developing nations is that instead of the globalisation approach assisting all nations to benefit from the bilateral trade agreements, America and Europe have taken the neoliberal capitalist approach through their invasive media (Meyer 120). The underdeveloped and developing nations need to enjoy their fundamental freedom enshrined in their constitutions, but the efforts of media imperialism seem to undermine such critical issues. Hence, media imperialism is inflicting ethical trade dilemmas across the continents.
The noble idea that the Westerners have in the international politics and trade is that fairness and justice are crucial aspects that joint trade partners should consider in their trade practices (Xie 5). Media imperialism of the Westerners is undermining the aspects of mutual consent and mutual beneficence in the trade agreements, since their dominance in the immature economies is causing trade unfairness. Whereas nations could easily counter the imperialistic approach of the Westerners in the telecommunication industry, the Western economic giants have imposed oppressive media policies (Xie 8). Critical issues arising from the media imperialism debates include the nonexistence of media regulation and policies, restriction to media ownership, breach of intellectual property rights, and improper designing of the digital content. Most telecommunication analysts in the global media debates have highlighted the lack of media regulations (Jenkins 38). The Westerners have often used this loophole to overcome all criticism against their media imperialism aspect in the international media business.
The global media has remained bound to sovereignty and self-regulation that gives the established Western media a selfish opportunity to manipulate the media industry. Analysts believe that lack of regulations against media content, has empowered the Western media to spread their cultural content across the world without restrictions (Meyer 125). Additionally, the global media seem to lack regulations governing media ownership, and due to such mistakes, the Western economic giants are using their powerful media infrastructure and technologies to explore the unrestricted zones. Concerning breach to the intellectual property rights, there is a lack of governmental censorship governing the new media environment in which the imperialism of the westerners has manifested itself (Jenkins 38). Analysts believe that such loopholes are causing ripples and controversies on the media ownership and legal frameworks meant to control the media fraternity. The Western media imperialism has an advantage because the digital economy seems to favour established countries that are capable of financing their international projects.
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Evidences that Support Different Views
There is increasing evidence concerning the aspect of media imperialism of the Western economic giants. According to Sabir, the governments of the giant economies in the world have shifted away from using hegemonic strategies to display their political intolerance and taken their power shift towards transnational corporations (283). The underlying evidence concerning media imperialism is the dominance of the media houses from the Western economic giants on the underdeveloped and developing nations. Commonly referred to as transnational capitalism, the evidence of media imperialism is eminent in the witnessed dominance of the American and British transnational corporations and their brands, management cultures, consumerism cultures, and business operations (Chadha and Kavoori 419). The greatest evidence portraying the Western imperialism in the international media is the Walt Disney Company that dominates the global media with its vast communication networks and broadcasting houses. Sabir asserts that the Walt Disney Company is acting as a commercial weapon to destroy indigenous cultures of the minor economies and impose the American culture (289).
A 2013 global report on the fortune 500 companies mentioned the Walt Disney Company as the largest American media in popularity and revenue generation (Sabir 289). Walt Disney has aided in transferring the Western culture through its powerful programming skills that make youngsters glued to its television channels, radio channels and its internet networks (Meyer 123). As a marketing tool favouring transnational corporations from the Western economic giants, the Walt Disney Broadcasters have designed media content that favours business corporations from America and Europe. Empirical evidence from the imperialism aspect associated with the Disney Company reveals that the company has been in the forefront in establishing strong marketing platforms for the Western multinational companies. Meyer asserts that the Disney broadcasters and programmers have laid a suitable business foundation for the American and British multinationals and sidelined the native companies in the invaded countries (121). The films, books, and music of the United States, with cultural values of America have dominated the Asian communication industry.
Canada and Australia follow the list with their transnational media concentration across the Asian Pacific zone, but surprisingly their influence on the local business is just incomparable to the Disney Company (Sabir 287). Disney is promoting the American cultural values, promoting the political standpoint of the Americans, and demonstrating to the world how dominant economies can exercise their indirect control over their underdeveloped counterparts (Sabir 288). The 2013 global report on the fortune 500 international corporations placed seven other American broadcasting companies in the highest rank in revenue generation and recognition. The vast majority of the companies appearing in the top ten fortune-500 list of telecommunication companies are the American-owned media (Sabir 288). The top ten America media with a domineering power across the world include the News Corp, the Century Fox, the CBS Corporation, the Viacom, the Comcast, the Sony Corporation, and the Time Warner broadcasters (Sabir 288). These conglomerates have displaced other mass media companies and imposed their American values.
The transnational American companies benefiting from the unfair practice of media imperialism are the American PepsiCo Company and the Coke Company, whose marketing information disseminates through these giant broadcasters. Sabir states that Media imperialism has enabled Pepsi to rank the 137th largest multinational company that employs over 285,000 workers from the dominated regions and from America (290). Pepsi and Coke have been attempting to use the social consciousness marketing technique to penetrate and dominate the markets. In support of the marketing ambitions of Coke and Pepsi, media imperialism of the broadcasters and printers from the Western economic giants has aided in promoting the brand image of these famous beverage companies (Sabir 288). Through media imperialism, Pepsi and Coke have increased their product diversity, broadened their interior dominance, and occupied major markets in the developing and underdeveloped nations (Sabir 285). The Coke and Pepsi companies have transported the American pop culture to their beverage fans and displaced indigenous values of the natives.
The Identified Theoretical Assumptions
A closer analysis of the aspect of media imperialism brings us to realizing the authenticity of the media and culture theories that regularly dominate the international literature of media debates (Stadler 123). The initial perception of media imperialism is that the people allege that the Western economic giants are the initiators of media imperialism. The theoretical model of media imperialism initially assumed that the vision of the Westerners behind establishing cultural diversity and advocating for bilateral trades based on the ceaseless exportation of cultural products to the easily controllable developing economies (Chadha and Kavoori 416). Americans and Europeans had an idea of the future influence that the media would create in marketing their transnational mega companies to the underdeveloped and developing nations (Boyd-Barrett 158). Another theory associating with media imperialism is the theory of hypodermic behaviour of media effects that postulates that media content has a spontaneous, direct, impelling, and unmediated influence on the behaviours of the audience and the world.
The Westerners have realised the uncultivated regulations on the media ownership and content distribution, and have used such loophole as an opportunity to rule the world indirectly. According to Chadha and Kavoori, the theory of globalisation also plays a critical role in understanding the capitalism behaviours of the giant nations (417). The globalisation theory assumed that the industrial revolution, international politics, international trade, and the novelty of the Westerners in technology, would emerge as the most controversial aspects that hamper international relations (Jenkins 34). The rules governing international trade are miniature and can barely control the international relations and trade, including the free-trade agreements. Each nation, whether developing or developed, has its own interests in the trade agreements, and the capitalism notion would often appear in the international trade. Jenkins states that the theory of internationalisation and transnational trade postulates that economic giants have the power and capacity to export their traditions, cultural values, and economic behaviours (37).
The Marxist theoretical approach of globalisation once mentioned that nation-state relationships between the underprivileged and economically stable nations are crucial in unravelling the facts behind the imperialism theory. The Western giant economies have moved away from the traditional hegemony behaviours, and delved into a more technical approach of imposing their cultures to others through the media. The United States and the United Kingdom were the counties that propelled the idea of globalisation, with a hidden intention of manoeuvring in global trade unfairly. The major issues, raising concern over media imperialism is unfairness in the international trade, cultural manipulation, economic imbalances, unfair economic growth, and political intolerance. The Americans and the British have dominated literally every important aspect in the international media, consequently displacing the indigenous values of the natives of the underdeveloped nations. Their media have acted as a source of exporting cultural values, business techniques, consumption behaviours, leadership techniques, and economic values to the immature economies.
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