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					Transnational media corporations,
media imperialism, and their critics

    October 30 – November 1, 2006




                                       1
TNCs and TNMCs
 What  is a transnational corporation?
    A nationally-based company
    That has operations in 2 or more
     countries
 Then what’s a transnational media
  corporation?



                                          2
Transnational media corporations
 TNC  whose principal commodity—what it
 sells—is information and/or entertainment
   Software & hardware technology
   Broadcast, cable, satellite TV
   Internet ―products‖
   Music (recordings)
   Film
   Video games
   VCR/DVD recording technology
                                             3
The lens through which we’ll view
TNMCs
 ―Politicaleconomy‖
 Does anyone recall this term (and its
  meaning)?
 Handy definition
   Study of the distribution of economic and
    social resources
   And the role of power in that distribution


                                            4
Political economy of media
 Concerned   with
   Who owns and controls the production
    and distribution mechanisms of media
    industries
   Relationships between patterns of
    ownership and
     Media content

     Control of cultural landscape

                                           5
Why is PE of TNMCs especially
relevant now?
 1990s-2000s
   Unprecedented  number of international
    mergers, acquisitions, buyouts, etc. in
    media businesses
     Archetypes: AOL Time Warner,
      Paramount/Viacom, Disney/ABC
   Technological advances



                                              6
With the accelerated pace of
mergers and tech advancements
 Growing  acceptance
   Less resistance than before
     From governments, politicians (in the
      form of deregulation)
     If not always from citizens/consumers!

   Less concern about antitrust issues (what
    are these?)

                                           7
What’s been the result?
 Consolidation!
 Vast percentages of world’s media and
  entertainment production and distribution
  in very hands
    About 6-10 major ―players‖ worldwide
     who control over 50% of the ―products‖
 Who are these players?



                                          8
    Time-Warner (HQ: USA)
      TELEVISION                    PUBLISHING                  MUSIC                         FILM
Networks                      Books                    The Atlantic Group           Warner Bros. Studios
WB Network                    Time Life Books          Rhino Records                Castle Rock Entertainment
HBO                           Book-of-the-Month Club   Elektra Entertainment Grp.   New Line Cinema
Cinemax                       Little, Brown & Co.      London-Sire Records          Fine Line Features
Time Warner Sports            Bulfinch Press           Warner Bros. Records
Comedy Central                Back Bay Books           Warner Music International        RECREATION
CNN                           Warner Books             Time Life Music
TBS                           Oxmoor House             Columbia House               Sports
TNT                                                    Giant (Revolution) Records   Atlanta Braves
Cartoon Network               Magazines                Maverick                     Atlanta Hawks
Turner Classic Movies         Time                     Qwest Records                Atlanta Trashers
Court TV                      Life                     RuffNation Records           Turner Sports
                              Fortune                  Sub Pop Records              World Championship
Production                    Sports Illustrated       Tommy Boy Records            Wrestling
New Line Television           People                                                Goodwill Games
Turner Original Productions   Entertainment Weekly            INTERNET
Warner Bros. Television       In Style
                                                       AOL
Looney Tunes                  Ski
                                                       Compuserve
Hanna-Barbera                 Travel & Leisure
                                                       Netscape
                              Popular Science
                                                       AOL Moviefone
Cable Systems                 DC Comics
                                                       Digital City
Time Warner Cable             Mad Magazine
                                                       Mapquest.com

                                                                                                         9
    Viacom (HQ: USA)
      TELEVISION               PUBLISHING                    FILM                  OTHER
Networks
CBS                      Books                     Production             Famous Music Publishing
                         The Free Press            Paramount Pictures     (copyright owners)
UPN
                         MTV Books                 MTV Films              Theme Parks
MTV Networks
                         Nickelodeon Books         Nickelodeon Movies     Paramount Parks
Nickelodeon
                         Simon & Schuster                                 Infinity Outdoors/
Nick-at-Nite
                         Pocket Books              Theater Operations     TDI Worldwide
TV Land
                         Scribner                  United Cinemas Intl.   (the largest outdoor
CMT
                         Touchstone                Paramount Theaters     Advertising group in US)
TNN (Spike TV)
                                                   Famous Players         Star Trek franchise
VH1
Showtime Networks                 RADIO
The Movie Channel                                  Video
Sundance Channel         Networks                  Blockbuster
FLIX                     Infinity Broadcasting
BET                      (manages Westwood One             INTERNET
                         Radio networks)
Production               Metro Networks
Paramount                                          MTVi Group
Spelling Entertainment                             CBS Internet Group
                         Stations                  Nickelodeon Online
Big Ticket Television    Infinity Broadcasting
Viacom Productions                                 BET.com
                         (owns and operates over
King World Productions                             Contentville.com
                         180 radio stations)


                                                                                              10
   Walt Disney Company (HQ: USA)
      TELEVISION                  PUBLISHING                 INTERNET                RECREATION
                                                      Buena Vista Internet     Sports
Networks                    Books
                                                      Group:                   Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
ABC                         Walt Disney Co. Books
                                                      ABC.com, ABCNews.com     Anaheim Angels
The Disney Channel          Hyperion Books
                                                      Oscar.com, Disney.com
SoapNet                     Talk/Miramax Books
                                                      Family.Com               Theme Parks
ESPN                                                  ESPN Internet Group
A&E                         Magazines                                          Disneyland
                                                      NFL.com                  Walt Disney World
The History Channel         Discover, Disney          NBA.com
Lifetime                    ESPN, US Weekly (50%)                              Disney-MGM Studios
                                                      NASCAR.com               EuroDisney , Disneyland
E!                                                    Soccernet.com (60%)      Japan, Epcot,
                            Daily Newspapers          Infoseek (43%)           Disney's Animal Kingdom
Production                  County Press (MI)         Toysmart.com (majority   Disney's California
Buena Vista Television      Oakland Press and         stake)                   Adventure,
Touchstone Television       Reminder (MI)
                                                                               Disney Cruise Line
Walt Disney TV, Animation   Narragansett Times                  FILM
                            St. Louis Daily Record
                                                      Walt Disney Pictures     Theater
         RADIO                                                                 Walt Disney Theatrical
                                      MUSIC           Touchstone Pictures
                                                      Hollywood Pictures       Productions
ABC Radio Networks          Buena Vista Music Group   Caravan Pictures
Radio Disney                Hollywood Records         Miramax Films
ESPN Radio                  Lyric Street Records      Buena Vista Home
27 Radio Stations
                            Mammoth Records           Entertainment

                                                                                                   11
    News Corp. (HQ: Australia/USA)
       TELEVISION                   PUBLISHING                    INTERNET                      FILM
                              Books                        TheStreet.com (partial
Networks - U.S.               HarperCollins General Book   ownership with New York    Twentieth Century Fox
FOX Broadcasting Company      Group                        Times Co.)                 Blue Sky Studios
FOX News Channel                                           Healtheon/WebMD Corp.      Fox Searchlight Pictures
                              Regan Books
FOX Kids Network              Amistad Press                (partial ownership)
FOX Sports                    William Morrow & Co.
(partial in some              Avon Books
markets)                                                            SPORTS
The Health Network            Magazines                    Los Angeles Dodgers
FX                            TV Guide (partial            New York Knicks (partial
National Geographic's cable   ownership)                   ownership)
channel (50%)                 The Weekly Standard          New York Rangers
Golf Channel                  Maximum Golf                 (partial ownership)
TV Guide Channel (44%)                                     Los Angeles Kings
                              Newspapers                   (partial ownership)
Stations                      New York Post (U.S.)         Los Angeles Lakers
22 Fox affiliated stations                                 (partial ownership)
                              The Times (U.K.)
                              The Sun (U.K.)               Dodger Stadium
          RADIO               News of the World (U.K.)     Staples Center (partial
                              The Australian (Australia)   ownership)
                              The Herald Sun (Australia)   Madison Square Garden
Fox Sports Radio Network      The Advertiser (Australia)   (partial ownership)


                                                                                                           12
   Bertelsmann (HQ: Germany)
     TELEVISION                  PUBLISHING                      MUSIC

Production/                Books                        Arista Records
                           Ballatine Publishing Group   BMG
Distribution               Bantam Doubleday Dell
UFA Film & TV Production                                BMG Music Publishing
                           Bertelsmann Publishing       BMG Music Service
(Germany)                  Book-of-the-Month Club       RCA Records
Trebitsch Production       (management)                 Bad Boy Records
(Germany)                  Crown Publishing Group       LaFace Records
Delux Productions          Doubleday                    Time Bomb Records
(Luxembourg)               Fodors Travel                Windham Hill Group
Cinevideo (Canada)
Holland Media House
(Netherlands)              Publications                        INTERNET
First Choice (U.K.)        Knopf Publishing Group
                           Random House Inc.
                           Magazines                    AOL Europe (partial
Stations                   Gruner & Jahr                ownership)
16 stations in Germany,                                 Barnesandnoble.com (partial
                           Child
France, Luxembourg,                                     ownership with Barnes and
                           Family Circle (majority)
Netherlands, Belgium,                                   Noble)
                           Fitness
England, Poland, Hungary                                CDNow
                           Inc.
        RADIO              McCall's (majority owner)    Lycos Europe (partial
                           Parents (majority owner)     ownership)
FM Radio Ntwk (Germany)    YM (majority owner)          Napster (partial stake)


                                                                                      13
 NBC Universal/Vivendi (US/France)
     TELEVISION                    FILM                      MUSIC

                          Production/Distribution   Universal Music Group:
Production/Distribution   Universal Studios         MCA Records
Universal Television      October Films             Polygram
Group: NBC!               (partial owner)           Island/Def Jam
Multimedia                United International      Motown
Entertainment              Pictures                 Decca Records
Brillstein-Grey           (partial owner)           Geffen/DGC Records
Entertainment             Cinema International BV   Universal Records
(partial owner)           (partial owner)           Interscope Records
USA Networks Inc.                                   Rising Tide
(partial
                                INTERNET
owner)
Canal+ (Europe)                                           TELECOMM
                          Universal Studios New
                          Media Group               Cegetel (a leading
                          VivendiNet                private French wireless
     PUBLISHING           Vizzavi                   operator)
                          (European multi-access    Vivendi Telecom
Havas Press (France)      portal)                   International

                                                                              14
What’s true about these
companies?
           integration
 Horizontal
   What does this mean?


    AND

         integration
 Vertical
   What does this mean?


                           15
Horizontal vs. vertical integration
 Horizontal:
   Having holdings across a variety of
    business categories
     Film AND music AND newspapers AND
      telephones




                                      16
Vertical:
 Having   holdings at all/various stages of the
  same category
 E.g., in the film industry, if one company
  owned
    Production (studios)
    Distribution (marketing)
    Exhibition (movie theaters)


                                             17
From a TNMC’s standpoint…
 What are the advantages of horizontal
 and/or vertical integration?
   Especially, across national borders?




                                           18
Advantages to being/becoming a
TNMC
 Efficiency (or ―synergy‖)
    Same product across borders
    Often, same labor force
 Complete control over different parts of
  processes of creativity and marketing—the
  creative ―property‖
    Book development, TV deals, movie
     deals, CDs, DVDs, web sites
                                         19
Think how franchises like Harry
Potter or Star Wars are managed
   One corporation
     Owns the book publisher
     Owns magazines/newspapers/TV shows in
      which it can be publicized
     Owns movie studio that shoots film
     Owns DVD distribution companies—in US and
      around the world
     Owns TV networks on which film is broadcast
     Owns satellite networks on which film is
      beamed (esp. true of News Corp.)
     Might even own airlines on which in-flight film
      is shown
                                                   20
In other words…
 The  processes of
   Marketing
   Conversion
   Distribution
   Cross-promotion
   Licensing
 Can all happen under one ―roof‖


                                    21
Advantages to being/becoming
TNMC (ctd.)
 Acquisitions:you can buy already-
 established companies with good
 reputations—and enter new categories
   Sony bought CBS Records and Columbia
    Pictures
     Meaning a consumer-electronics
      company overnight became ALSO a
      record company and a film studio

                                      22
Why get involved specifically in
transnational film/TV production?
 Cost of production is unrelated to # of
  people who see a show
 A foreign viewer watching doesn’t prevent a
  domestic viewer from watching
 Once cost of production is realized, profits
  increase as audience size increases
 Costs much less to produce one show for
  multiple markets (countries) than separate
  versions for each market (country)
                                           23
Other reasons to get into
transnational production/distribution
 Most other countries around the world love
  US popular culture products
   TV shows, music, movies
   $8 billion spent overseas on US films in
    2001; $9.64 billion in 2002
 Only costs (for MANY products) are
   Translation
   Shipping/distribution
                                          24
Who else benefits from TNMCs?
 Media  companies in smaller, poorer nations
    Much cheaper to import TV shows than
     produce your own!
 Arguably, viewers/audiences in other
  nations
    You’re exposed to cultural products from
     around the world (many of which
     probably have higher production values
     than your country’s products!)
                                          25
This has changed how US media/
entertainment business works
 1970s-80s:  TV and film studios produced
  shows with ONLY U.S. audiences in mind
    And only some products were then
     exported
 Now: TV and film studios start with
  assumption that (almost all) products will
  be sold worldwide


                                           26
Why might TMNCs be criticized?
 By governments
 By competitors
 By creative ―talent‖ (movie stars, singers,
  novelists, TV writers, radio DJs, etc.)
 By consumers




                                            27
Frequent criticisms
 TNMCs   are monolithic
   Huge corporation that treats all of its
    businesses the same way (has one
    philosophy)
     Not often true, in fact!




                                              28
Criticism of TNMCs
 They operate everywhere
   Also not usually true
   They, do, however, tend to operate in
    preferred markets (North America,
    Western Europe, Australia, Japan)
     As well as their home markets

   And so they often squeeze out smaller
    competitors
                                            29
With all this said…
 Transnational  media products DON’T
 always do as well overseas as producers
 might like
   Why?
   ―Principle of cultural proximity‖




                                           30
Principle of cultural proximity
 Given   a choice, most TV viewers prefer
  programs produced in own nations
    i.e., programs that reflect their own
     language, culture, history, values, humor
 Language is most important factor
    Austria imports from Germany
    US imports from UK, Canada, Australia


                                           31
But language isn’t only factor
 Many   South American TV shows are
  exported to other South American countries
    Similar cultural values, even if language
     varies
 Same for many Asian TV shows, Middle
  Eastern movies, etc.
    They circulate largely in their regions of
     the globe, not worldwide
                                            32
What might transcend language,
culture, region?
A  successful brand
 Examples of worldwide media brands
    HBO—now in more than 50 countries in
     North America, Latin America, Asia,
     Europe
    MTV—uses digital satellites to create
     regional and localized programs in Asia,
     Australia, Europe, the Americas
                                            33
Big picture: what are TNMCs and
their products doing to the world?
 Plusside
   Breaking down cultural barriers
   Making world a ―smaller place‖
 Minus side
   Something called ―cultural imperialism‖ or
    ―media imperialism‖—making over the
    world’s popular cultures in our (West)
    image
                                           34
What is imperialism?
A nation’s policy/practice of extending or
 imposing its power, authority, or influence
 over other nations
   By acquiring territory—thus becoming or
    extending an empire (examples??)
     And thereby gaining direct dominion

   Or by asserting political or economic
    power
     And thereby gaining indirect control
                                            35
―Media imperialism‖
 Theory  usually attributed to Herbert Schiller
  (1919-2000)
    UCSD communication professor
    Leading scholar of critical political
     economy of the media
 Most influential publication
   Mass Communication and American
    Empire (1969)
                                             36
Schiller’s key claims
 US  and Western European-controlled TNCs
  dominate the world market (1-way flow)
    All goods and services
    And, most important, what he called
     ―communications-cultural output‖
 What is often called ―modernization‖ is in
  fact ―Westernization‖
    Only one form of ―modernity‖ is available

                                           37
As a result…
 The media content produced and
 distributed—around the world—by these
 Western TNMCs
   Promotes/develops popular support for
    values/artifacts of capitalism as a whole
     And for TNCs in particular

   Enables further growth/spread of
    Western economic interests
                                            38
Taking this further…
 Worldwide    exportation of Western TV
  shows and movies
    Is like an ―electronic invasion‖ of local
     cultures and lifestyles
    Threatens to destroy local cultures,
     eroding historical traditions
 Result: ―the cultural and ideological
  homogenization of the world‖
                                                 39
The underlying idea
 Fora nation (say, the US!) to dominate the
 world…
  It’s not necessary to take over by force
  It may be easier—and more desirable—
   and certainly less bloody!—to control
   images and opinions



                                          40
What do you think?
 Let’s   discuss!




                     41
Challenging/revising MI
 Since  Schiller, a number of critics have
  offered opposing views
 Although still accept some basic premises of
  Schiller…
    particularly, that US is responsible for
     vast majority of media exports
    …many critics have countered with claims
     grounded in ―active audience‖ and
     ―encoding/decoding‖ theory
                                           42
What do you think this means?
 Even  though media products are distributed
  worldwide, it doesn’t mean
   they affect everyone identically
   everyone reads them the same way
 Rather (critics of MI claim), audiences
   Read them differently
   Overlay their own cultural understandings
   May be either oppressed by them or
    liberated by them
                                          43
In other words…
 Let’s not forget that ―magic bullet theory‖
  was discredited long ago!
    Yet Schiller would have us believe that
     transnational media texts work just that
     way!
 Let’s consider some specific anti-MI (or
  post-MI) studies…


                                            44
Liebes & Katz (1991):
the Dallas study
 Israel:Arabs, Russian Jews, Moroccan
  Jews, Israeli kibbutz residents
 US
 Japan


 Readings    of Dallas varied depending on
  viewers’ cultural backgrounds
    How ―real‖ it seemed, cultural messages,
     political messages                     45
Dallas study (ctd.)
 Americans   criticized how well/badly the
  story was written, produced, acted
 Russians criticized politics (capitalism)
  inherent in Dallas
 Arabs criticized ―dangers‖ of Western
  culture—the ―moral degeneracy‖ of US life



                                          46
Dallas (ctd.): summary
 Audiences  draw on their own national/
  ethnic identities when decoding TV shows
 Decoding process may even strengthen
  an audience’s sense of ethnic identity
    You compare what’s on the screen (for
     good or bad) to your own culture
    And in doing so, become more in touch
     with who you are culturally
                                         47
Studies in Africa
 Davis & Davis (1995) studied Moroccan
 youth exposed to Western TV (1980s-90s)
   Found young paper re-imagined aspects
    of their own lives
     Desire for more autonomy

     Awareness of career options

     New approaches to romantic
      relationships
                                       48
US soap operas and
traditional Zulu culture
 Strelitz(2004) interviewed young man
  (Khulani) raised in South Africa in
  traditional Zulu family
 From watching variety of US soaps, came
  to new understandings of
    Male-female romantic relationships
    Son-father relationships
    Women’s right to speak their minds

                                        49
But a negotiated reading!
 Khulani  did not just accept or endorse
 every value he saw in US soaps
   Rejected idea of 15-year-olds being in
    relationships
   Rejected US approach to dealing with
    elderly



                                             50
Another (non-media-specific)
challenge to ―media imperialism‖
 MI assumes that prior to TV/movies…
   There was no contact between industrial
    West and more traditional cultures
   Non-Western cultures were ―pure‖
   Non-Western cultural values were/are
    universally superior to Western values



                                         51
Reality
 There’s  been cross-cultural contact for
  centuries
 Most forms of culture in the world are
  already hybridized
 Many values of non-Western cultures are
  not necessarily admirable
    e.g., how women are treated in many
     Arab cultures; taboo against fathers and
     sons sharing feelings in Zulu culture
                                           52
Another challenge: glocalization
 As   we’ve seen with
   Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
   Desperate Housewives
 Evenwhen US/European TV shows are
 exported, they’re usually adapted to make
 sense to local cultures



                                         53
Another angle:
―Promotional Culture‖
 Even  if the US-dominated media don’t act
  as media imperialists…
 And even if audiences around the world
  read US media actively, and through their
  own cultural lenses…
 We can’t deny that the worldwide explosion
  in media and popular culture texts are part
  of a larger trend: ―promotional culture‖

                                          54
Promotional culture
 Media/cultural  texts as consumer products
 Media/cultural texts—and visual imagery
  more broadly—that are used to create (and
  sell) brands and brand images
 Media/cultural texts as both
    Advertising-supported
    Forms of advertising, themselves


                                         55
Historical perspective
 It’simpossible to separate the invention,
  development, and growth of media from
  that of promotion (esp. advertising)
    Newspapers
    Radio
    Television
    The Internet


                                          56
Parallel to growth of media…
 Has  been the growth of the promotional
  professions
    Advertising
    Public relations
    Sales promotion
 And these professions themselves are
  increasingly pervasive and powerful
    Examples?
                                            57
Penetration of the promotion
professions
 So  much more than simply the way sellers
  promote products to buyers
 Promotion professions influence
    Fashion, politics, policies, values, ideas
    The development of market systems
    The development of democracies
      Our own, and those of other nations



                                             58

				
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