Monday, September 28, 2009

Murdoch, the poor and Global Governance

I hate to harp on some of the things I have mentioned before in my previous posts, but it is what interests me and it keeps coming up in all of our readings in one way or another. Mainly the power that corporations and nations with money exert on those people and nations with less power, money and influence. Even within our own country, the flow of information is at the hands of a few. It has been taken over by the big corporations, GE, Disney, and the News Corporation. The market-driven strategy, privatization of global communication and expectations of profitability is affecting the way in which information flows and, more importantly, what information is being dissiminated and shared with viewers, readers, and the public. Satellites and space communications have been bought by private investment groups, for example. The ownership of satellites and media conglomerates such as the News Corporation, have given the owners control over access, information flow, and content. Liberalization and privatization have not positively affected the poor. The market-based globalization has a down side. “A shift from public to private agenda is the increase in poverty amont the world's poorest, living in countries on the receiving end of neo-liberal reforms, which have yet to deliver for a majority of the world's population.”

The media corporations have a grasp on information and although some developing countries have benefited (India), others have been bought out by foreigners. Africa, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe have high degrees of foreign ownership of their national broadcast media. Case in point, Murdoch and the News Corporation. The quote by one of the senior staff officials where he mentions that from morning to night, the News Corporation is a part of our lives (on TV, news, books, entertainment, etc) is true and spells out just how much it infiltrates people's lives whether we consciously choose Murdoch's products or not. I don't think many people are aware of all that he owns, and only Fox News get the negative attention because of the conservative bias. In the end, he controls his media empire, and his view trickle down in some shape or form into the News. He has that power and his influence is far-reaching. Is it fair? I'm not sure, but I do believe that each network, news channels, and newspapers have their own biases, whether it be the boss' or the journalist's point of view. I don't think it's fair to have the wealthy control how the news is spun or have them control what developing countries watch, listen, etc.

The articles discuss Global Governance and infrastructure and it got me wondering how Global Governance is best managed, and how it can best be conducted. I think Castells purports an interesting, somewhat idealistic view. “Either to construct the global political system as an expression of power relationships without cultural mediation or else to develop a global public sphere around the global networks of communications, from which the public debate could inform the emergence of a new form of concensual global governance.” In this way, the ICTs and global networks could be completely inclusive, and hopefully all would have equal presence and participation. Alas, to think that this would work is idealistic, but we can hope that we are headed towards that direction. Although from the General Assembly at the UN last week, I'm not so sure...

1 comment:

  1. I also like Castell's idealism, and I agree that the idea of global networks being completely inclusive would probably never happen, but it's fascinating to think that even now, socially networked media have the power to debate and even discredit the messages of the News Corporation or any other institution that dares to report lies.

    As the case of Iran shows, even governments who attempt to control their citizen's access to information by shutting down every non-state-approved media news outlet in town can no longer remain in control of information. Through new technologies and networks, it leaks (I'm talking here about protesters usng twitter and facebook and mobile phones to organize and oppose the will of the state).

    More and more, national security will be about winning the trust of the people, or at least their favor, and wielding soft power, unless TNCs win some sort of massive control of accessibility of the internet.

    As you say, though, global governance of the network society is an unweildy idea to say the least, especially considerng the difficulties faced by the U.N., but it may come about simply because there is no other way. If TNC want to continue to offer their media products, then governments (even closed ones, if they want to keep their economies strong) and global governance bodies will have to come to some to some agreement on interwebs ground rules, won't they?

    Or am I assuming that everyone must bend to the will of the cultural media products markets, when really that is just the ideology of the companies themselves, and of the neoliberal conception of globalization and free trade for all...?

    I guess it comes back to the debate outlined by Raboy in his report on how the WSIS highlighted the discursive positions of "right to communicate" (business/govt interests) versus "freedom of expression" (people's/public interests). TNCs would probably like to see GATT and other trade agreements support the right for them to communicate into a given market, just not necessarily the right of citizens to communicate within or without it, or even with it...?