Global Media

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Nowadays, people live in a global age and the pace of globalisation has accelerated as a result of the rapid development of technology and economy. Under the process of globalisation, both the local culture and the mass media are affected dramatically. The phenomenon of homogenisation and heterogenisation has been created and is considered as the most representative and symbolic impact. However, the topic of globalisation is highly controversial and needs to be analysed in depth. In history, three theories have been used by scholars to look at globalisation and its effect. The modernisation theory and cultural dependency theory analysed the positive and negative influences of homogenisation as a result of globalisation. Heterogenisation, as the opposite side of homogenisation, is emphasised in the cultural pluralism theory as the other significant influence of globalisation. Therefore, this essay will aim to examine the effects of globalisation on both media systems and local culture from these three perspectives. According to McQuail (2005: 248-252) and Thussu (2006: 41-46), the modernisation theory believes that the mass media through the global flow of information could spread the message of modernity and help transform and develop traditional societies. Besides, both Lerner (1958) and Schramm (1964) mentioned that mass media functioned as a mobility multiplier, and could help people experience events in far-off places and let them reassess traditional life. Because of the global flow of mass media, people in developing countries can easily view how the modernised life is in the West from newspaper, radio, television and internet. At the same time, a strong desire for a better life and to shake off the traditional way of living has been formed from the media exposure. However, this view neglects the significant influence of indigent native culture. For example, the Islamic traditions still play an important role and are becoming more influential in the Muslim world despite the West’s effects (Thussu 2006: 45-46). The global flow of mass media also leads to a phenomenon of homogenisation and the media systems have become increasingly similar over the world (McQuail 2005: 251-252). Influenced by the Western style of professional television journalism, similar television programmes start to appear in other countries. Examples include the current-affairs programmes like We the People in India and critical investigative programmes such as Focal Report on CCTV in China (Zhao 1999: 303). Through the process of global homogenisation, people are increasingly able to access different culture and share the common cultural experience of each other. For instance, it is not surprising to find people watch The World Cup and Olympics, listen to Micheal Jackson’s music and wear the Levis jeans everywhere of the world (Hopper 2007: 64-65). Nonetheless, the mass media is not a neutral carrier of information. The media now is largely owned by global media firms and the access to a global culture is more likely to be a one-way flow from Western countries to developing countries (Thussu 2006: 43-45). Unlike the modernisation theory, negative impacts of globalisation are also stressed in cultural imperialism theory. Firstly, Thussu (2006: 46-50) claimed that globalisation increased the dependency of developing countries on the West instead of helping them develop. There’s no doubt that America plays a dominant role in the world entertaining industry. For example, Hollywood films are shown in over 150 countries and American television programmes are broadcast in about 125 international markets. Even in Europe, which already had a developed film industry, the top 10 films were all Hollywood films from 1996 to 2004 (Thussu 2006: 156-158,). However, it is apparent that the huge success of American films in other countries will restrain the growth of domestic film industry. With a less developed domestic film industry, cinema especially in...
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