Monday, October 5, 2009

Globalization: Exports and Imports of Foreign Media

This week’s readings had a recurring topic: the global media, who dominates the sphere and the factors of imports or exports of foreign media. McChesney, Thussu, and Tunstall all agree that the United States (US) is the largest exporter of media to the extent that many people call media globalization, the Americanization of media. Although it has been proven that people have a preference for local media, many countries import some US content. I personally think that even if you do see American movies and television programs, it does not mean this will eliminate your local culture. Maybe some phrases and fashion trends might be copied from the TV shows, but the culture in essence will not be affected by it.

In Puerto Rico, being a Commonwealth of the US, most of our media is imported from the US. We only have about 4 local TV channels, all the rest are American. I have also experienced the glocalization Robert McChesney describes in his article, “The Media System Goes Global”. Glocalization refers to the globalizing media with a local focus. For example, international broadcasting stations like ABC, FOX, The CW, CBS they keep the same basic programming but add some local features so it appeals more to the public in a specific country. They do this by showing local commercials, renaming the channels as, for example FOX Puerto Rico, ABC Puerto Rico, and so on. For some reason, this makes the channels seem more unique and gets you thinking, “Wow! This programming is made just for me”, although they are just passing the same schedule as they do in the US.

The US’s biggest export market is the European Union (EU). US media products also reach many other countries in either a direct or indirect manner as Jeremy Tunstall explains in “Media Nationalism”. Direct exports refer to programs, movies, etc. that have no alterations and is presented in the foreign country exactly as in the country of origin. Indirect exports are the ones that include alterations such as: subtitles, dubbed in another language, cutting out scenes because of cultural, religious, or political reasons, and selling a program idea and format to another country so they may produce it. The indirect forms of exporting media make it less obvious where it is coming from.

Hollywood has an extraordinary dominance over the film industry since the beginning of its days. Daya Kishan Thussu tells us that in 2004, US exports of film and TV programs totaled $10,480 million and it continues to grow annually. Hollywood just as other international companies has many joint ventures and partnerships with countries such as Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. This variety makes Hollywood movies appeal to a more diverse audience which maximizes profits and increases exports. Hollywood does have its competitors, like: Bollywood, a film industry from India; Japanese anime and manga, which has grown to be very popular; and Telenovelas, Latin American soap operas shown in most Spanish speaking countries and in the US where there is a large Hispanic population.

The globalization of media has many different faces: imports, exports, dominating countries… It is clear that the US has great control over media globalization and is country with the most exported media. Although new technologies have allowed new competitors to come into the mix with Hollywood, this will probably not affect its growth and quantity of exports.

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