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Communicating hegemony or technologies of resistance?

Today…and next week 

Our main focus is the tension between a growing similarity between cultures and the potential for global cultural diversity

The primary influence upon this tension is the global communications system: the means through which cultural exchanges and clashes occur

This week we consider the development of global media system

Next week we will debate its impact upon local and global cultures

Today 

The globalisation of media

Global media and the public sphere

An introduction to the propaganda model

Social media and media pluralism

To what extent do transnational media corporations impact local cultures?

Mediating our lives 

The media ‘mediate’ communication between distant peoples

Consequently, how we understand the world around us is largely determined by how it is represented for us

Conversely, we don’t just take on the exactly what is presented to us, but have competing influences and the ability to reflect upon information

What are ‘proms’ like at American High Schools?

Filtered Knowledge

Transnational media 

The development of transnational media corporations was the pivotal moment in this globalisation of culture

The global media system increased the representation of distant localities and the communication between these localities

These organisations allowed media to push beyond national boundaries, often filling the place of domestic media 

In 1982 there were three channels in the UK!

Growing intensity 

Initial forms of mass media were local, although they carried global news, radio broadcasts and (Hollywood) films 

News media was mostly state owned and non-profit

The construction of a truly global media system arrived with the rapid expansion of global capitalism in the 1980s and 1990s

Digital and satellite technology allowed for the instantaneous transmission of information

Neo-liberal deregulation of economic boundaries allowed for the free transmission of media

Consequently 

The new global communications system was not tied to ‘the public interest’, and was substantially more commercially orientated

A much wider range of media was available to people in various localities

Conversely, newly formed media corporations began to merge

Who cares? 

The increased concentration of global media has resulted in fewer different viewpoints on culture and information


As media became more globally orientated, yet commercially centralised, the way that the world is represented for us changed

Locating the public sphere 

The reduction in the diversity of goals and sources of those organisations has had a significant affect on the public sphere

The public sphere is the structures through which public opinions can be formed

Historically this might have been town squares or meeting halls

The media has extended this sphere, allowing greater public participation in understanding and producing public opinions

Where do you find out information about what is happening in the world?

Public broadcasting and the public sphere 

Public broadcasting plays a vital role in many democratic systems

Lying outside of both commercial and governmental interests, it is positioned as an impartial source of information

The BBC is often considered to be the strongest example of this tradition

Nonetheless, these broadcasters are themselves becoming more commercialised

BBC World Service 

Developed in 1932 as a radio service to communicate to the outreaches of the British Empire, it quickly diversified into different languages and mediums

Doesn’t carry advertising and is funded by the ‘Foreign and Commonwealth Office’

Is seen as both a form of Western propaganda and a liberating force from local censorship

Recent financial constraints have led to widespread reductions in service

BBC Worldwide The BBC has developed its own international commercial broadcasting service: BBC Worldwide is the commercial arm and a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). We exist to maximise the value of the BBC's assets for the benefit of the licence fee payer by creating, acquiring, developing and exploiting media content and brands around the world. We also focus on creating value from BBC content and showcasing British talent both in the UK and international markets. In the past five years the company has invested over £1bn in the UK's creative sector making it a major supporter for this increasingly important part of the 'UK plc'. We also sell programmes and formats produced by more than 200 different UK independent producers. In 2011/12 the company saw sales rise by 5.4% to £1085m - exceeding the £1bn mark for a fourth year. BBC Worldwide's total returns to the BBC rose by 19% to a record £216m in 2011/12, taking the returns to over £1.3bn since 2004

Profit and the public sphere 

The commodification of media primarily serves private interests, not the needs of active citizenship

Information is presented not to allow for public debate, but as a means to generate profit

Conversely, it is argued that private interests can compete to fill the informational needs of intelligent consumers

Capital seeks out and creates diversity it’s market place and media outlets can appeal to diverse range of interests

Globalisation as a private sphere 

If global communications are primarily owned by a limited range of individuals, the public sphere becomes privatised

Colin Sparks (1998, p.122) has argued that the ‘global public sphere should be replaced by the term imperialist, private sphere’

As a result, our conceptions of the world around us are dependent upon what is profitable for transnational media corporations

What do you want to know?

Making your views known Would you like to influence the quality of teaching in our department? Academic Programme Review GB210 at 1pm on February 12th


Media and (global) democracy 

In Media Control (1997), Noam Chomsky presents two images of democracy: 

Democracy as the ideal of citizen participation in public decision making

Democracy as a managed decision making process controlled by an elite

Does the global communications system allow for global participation in the production of culture, or is it simply a means of passing on dominant ideas?

Manufacturing Consent 

Chomsky argued that the mass media produce ‘system-supportive’ propaganda without overt coercion

This ‘propaganda model’ does not suggest that owners personally manipulate content, but that the structural properties of media produce strong tendencies

Instead, the media and individual journalists respond to structurally distorting ‘filters’ that determine what kind of news is reported

Manufactured Consent 

1. 2. 3. 4.


With Edward Herman, in Manufacturing Consent (1989), Chomsky argued that the reporting of news was determined by:

Ownership and Profits Advertising for profit News Sources Flak and the Enforcers ‘Anti-Communism’

Ownership 

The (sole) function of any corporation is to make a profit for its shareholders

Media corporations are no different: their function is to operate in a way that brings maximum financial returns for the owners

Editors are not inclined to produce news that threatens the interests of owners

Advertising 

Advertising is the primary source of funding for most media outlets

The ‘product’ being sold is not news, but the readers/viewer of this news, which are then sold to advertisers

Consequently, in order to produce a maximum return, the presentation of information is generated in order to gain the most advertising revenue

The influence of advertising has become substantially stronger on the internet, where content is often generated with the sole purpose of generating advertising

What is the most attractive readership for newspapers to have? How could the media best attract this audience?

Sources 

In order to gain access to information sources, journalists are forced into a ‘symbiotic’ relationship

Getting access to the ‘facts’ depends on the maintenance of a positive relationship with news sources

As newspaper profitability has fallen, and with it the supply of journalists, newspapers have become increasingly reliant on ‘official’ sources

Flat Earth News 

Journalist Nick Davies’ book Flat Earth News (2008, p.52) conducted research on four major daily papers in the UK

Analysing 2,207 news stories, they found that 60% if all stories were wholly from ‘wire copy’ and 20% predominately based on these sources

‘Wire copy’ comes either from ‘Wire agencies’ such as the Associated Press or Reuters, or Public relations agencies

Davies argued that economic demands upon journalism prevented widespread investigative reporting and generated substantial conformity between news sources

We may be getting more global news, but it is from a similar range of sources

Flak 

Media outlets are motivated to avoid widespread negative publicity and often fall prey to a ‘balance bias’

Controversial or ‘radical’ statements tend to be avoided in order to maintain a positive public image 

This is particularly relevant in entertainment media

Avoiding controversy means maintaining the status quo

Anti-communism? 

Written during the cold war, Manufacturing Consent focused on the conformity caused by appeals to the national interest

This role tends to be held by ‘the war on terror’ in the USA

Does British corporate media produce a biased view of the world?

Critique 

Leaves no room for anti-conformity, audience effects or individual agency

The elite cannot simply produce news that directly benefits their interests, but must respond to the interests of the masses

The owners of capital are not homogenous: whilst they are orientated towards profit, there are different ways to do so

Does not take into account the role of public service broadcasting in many nations, nor the internet

The grand expanse of the internet 

Although the web is being increasingly centralised within media conglomerates, it is global and allows for a wider diversity of voices

But 

The development of news media has challenged the profitability of traditional media, leading to fewer sources, more mergers and a greater focus on profitability


More than traditional mass media, the web runs on advertising revenue rather than subscriptions

Media Pluralism 

Media pluralism emphasises both the existence and importance of a plurality of media sources


It positions the centralised, and commercialised, ownership of global media as the cause that results in global homogeneity and the maintenance of the position of the global elite


A plurality of media sources and forms protects local cultures and freedom of expression

The Plurality of Social Media 

Social media encourages and relies upon audience participation


Audiences use these forms of media, but only within certain boundaries


Nonetheless, social media has redefined media participation and geographical boundaries

Are you Socially Global? 

Facebook and other social media appear to embody the potential of McLuhan’s ‘Global Village’

Whilst they exist for profit, they allow for continued connections beyond the local

These connections can be instantaneous, yet limited

Do you get information about the world from social media?


Has global media created an increasingly homogeneous global culture?

Next Week Mediated globalisation: Communicating hegemony or technologies of resistance Reading: 

Cohen and Kennedy, Chapter 16


Group Reading: Ritzer, G. (2008) The McDonaldization of Society (5th Ed.). Pine Forge Press: California (Introduction)

Starter question: Does it matter if cultures around the world are becoming more similar?

4 mediating globalisation 2014  
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