Saturday, October 10, 2009

Analysis Question 2

It is time to revisit some of the older concerns about media ownership and rights of information, but it is also important to continue to keep those in mind. As McChesney noted in his article and as we have read in previous articles, the transnational media conglomerates have increased their presence in new markets, including in some nation-states that have little local media. The Murdochization of the media has made it difficult for less developed nations to compete with Western conglomerates that have such a far, wide reach. The TNCs provide India, China and many other countries with foreign and localized programming. The formula has worked for the big companies thus far. They are maximizing their profits by infiltrating new markets and also forming partnerships with local companies that have a presence and/or infrastructure already in place.

Local media need opportunities to become more competitive in their own countries against the conglomerates. There is no way to reverse or downplay conglomerates' presence in non-Western countries, but there could be a better way to govern them to allow the local media companies to be more competitive. I believe that these local companies would eventually like to expand and become more global like the big transnational corporations, if given the chance. For now, it is a matter of the local companies stepping up and becoming competitive to provide their citizens with authentic local programming. There are a few countries like India and Brazil that have been somewhat successful and have been able to export their media to other countries. These 'subaltern' flows, as Thussu calls them, from South to South or South to North are rare. The Western TNCs produce more and have a wider range of holdings, thus there are more North to South flows. Smaller, local companies will no doubt look to the TNCs business models and methods for some ideas and guidance. The current economic climate is a good time to start making decisive moves and take big risks in order to carve out a niche in their own countries.

Nation-states governments have the power to control the flow, content and to some extent even the audience. In India, for example, Murdoch got into some hot water because of some of the culturally inappropriate content on one of his stations. This is a similar issue with journalism in some countries where governments keep reporters back and/or they have little access to controversial information and are forbidden to report on certain issues that may damage the governments reputation. The nations' culture, religion and governmental bodies influence the content and ways in which information is dispersed. In all nations, there needs to be freedom, subjectivity, and transparency in media. Ideally, audiences would be more in tune with what they are watching, where it's coming from, and if and how it is bias. I don't think the majority of people who watch news, or even entertainment programming scrutinize the content as we have been doing in class. It is an issue of media literacy. As this weeks readings point out, first there has been a rise in participatory media outlets, citizen journalism, and the creative process of consumption. Advertisers, as well as other media business execs realize the need to give the consumer choices and the ability to create, produce and consume content. This is what should be available in all nation-states.

I don't believe that government regulations and interventions are the answer. No one wants their government controlling the media, as is the case in some countries today. Chavez has much of the media in his hands in Venezuela, in Peru, when Fujimori was in power he controlled all the news programming. He bribed and had someone edit the news footage before it was aired. There are many other cases like these where the governments have too much control of the media. It is not the kind of governing that would be well-received in most countries, nor does it provide many outlets and choices for its citizens.

The WTO, UNESCO, ICANN and other governing bodies have been tried to impose some measures to regulate media, but it is becoming more difficult as it becomes more globalized. The US government is archiving congressmen and women's tweets. Celebrities have been sued for twitting something unfavorable or gossip about someone else, a company or a brand. Recently, in the NY Times there was an article about blogging and how bloggers writing about a product, need to fully-disclose if they got the product for free, if they are getting paid to write about it, etc. The rise in technology and internet media is making it difficult for anyone to regulate individuals online. It will take many organized groups to effectively enact regulations and govern individuals who are writing with their own interests in mind. Or dare I propose that we regulate and govern ourselves?

1 comment:

  1. Amparo, you always have such stimulating responses!

    I think you have hit on some really great points:
    should we regulate ourselves?
    what role should the govt play in this regulation?

    You've said that you don't believe govt regulation is the answer, but the fascinating and complicating fact of the matter is that we can't regulate ourselves without government intervention, because corporations are already doing it for us.

    Consider these examples from a recent article in the New Republic (,0):
    "In 2007, AT&T muted the sound during a webcast of a Pearl Jam concert at the very moment Eddie Veder, the group's lead singer, began criticizing George W. Bush. Verizon...has blocked pro-choice text messages sent by NARAL to its members (who had requested them)..."

    The article has a pretty comprehensive outline of these censorship issues and how they relate to the current net neutrality debate, which if you asked me, is all the more daunting when considered from an international point of view, as we are being asked to do...I kind of want to say-- international internet/media governance? Um, more open, more net neutrality.

    But I know that that could only work for countries who operate with a similar set of ground rules to the U.S. and Europe: free press, free speech. I suppose since only European and American companies and TNCs control international media flows, we don't have to really even consider the fact that China would never adopt anything close to a 'neutral net'?

    The U.S. is unique in that we have negative rights instead of positive (e.g. freedom from govt intervention in our free speech, freedom from discrimination), and in that spirit, we need new legislation to provide us with freedom from censorship by corporations and corporate media. As for the rest of the world...tough to say...?