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Introduction to Mass Communication

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Globalization is a buzz word these days. It is more heard in the arena of economics where
transnational corporations are widening their scope of activities and earning massively. So strong is the
thrust for expansionism by the world corporate sectors that governments and other international
organizations like the UNO etc also at times seem to be only working for the cause of this sector. The wave
of globalization is not without criticism such as it is designed to make a few rich and the rest poor not only
in the financial sense but also culturally. The debate is raging high.
Media as an international entity – both as a corporate sector and as a tool to represent culture of the region
it belongs to – is also caught in the globalization campaign as many fear the new trend may prove to be
much horrific for the developing countries and regional cultures.
Here below we will examine various aspects of the globalization of media.

Media and consumerism

The media and communication industries are a leading sector in facilitating overall globalization. In
the first place, the role of telecommunication is critical to globalize production strategies. It is inconceivable
that the pace and depth of globalization could have been sustained over the past decades in the absence of
sophisticated telecommunications networking. Furthermore, content (or “copyright”) industries, such as
television, music, video, film and the Internet, directly through advertising and indirectly through the
promotion of consumerist and individualistic lifestyles, are at the forefront of cultural preparation for
consumerism, an essential precondition and accompaniment to the opening up of new markets for a huge
variety of products, and to the breaking down of cultural and other barriers.
Another factor in the globalization of the media and communication sector is as a powerful agent in the
transformation of social, cultural and political structures. This is, of course, partly the flip side of media and
communications as a means of opening new markets and softening up cultures for consumerism, although
there is more to it than that. It is this set of (often unintended) side effects of the globalization of media that
have the most impact of all, namely the evolving cumulative impact of the gradual commercialization of
media and communications on critical social functions, such as the formation of individual and community
identity, cultural and language diversity, the capacity to participate in the political process and the integrity
of the public sphere, the availability of information and knowledge in the public domain, and the use of
media for development, educational and human rights purposes.

Dominance of TNCs backed by governments

Analyzing the effects of many historic, economic and political factors to have influenced the most
important characteristics of globalization of media systems in the last 15 years, and that what can be
observed is a domination of large countries and powerful transnational companies (TNC) which, according
to the effects of market laws, also affect the sphere of media industry and media systems.

Media centralization

Global Media experts maintain that these processes directly influence general commercialization of
media in the world and thereby most certainly democracy, both as an idea and system of governance.
Although, in their opinion, global media systems do not develop linearly in this direction, their trend is,
gradually and more or less, to become a part of the process of media centralization spearheaded by some
30 TNCs with the aim of taking control over the media. In this regard, economic interests unreservedly help
the political structures in large countries, which thus watch over the information and ideological orientation
inside nations, and in regions and on continents as well.
After providing a short historic overview of the appearance and development of the first massive medium –
press – and its historic predecessors, from early times gazettes, pamphlets, annals, to the first newspaper
editions in today’s meaning, all the way to the appearance of the first electronic medium and development
of television and internet experts analyze the dynamics of the global media market and explain the strategy
and funding of major media corporations, such as Time Warner, Disney, Bertelsmann, Viacom, and News
Corporation, which primarily have big film and television productions.
These TNCs are top players on the global media market, as one can see have imposing data indicating these
companies’ clear profile, first of all their financial wealth measured in billions of dollars in annual income.
(For example, Time Warner, the biggest media corporation, had an income of close to $25 billion, Disney
had $24 billion, and News Corporation had $10 billion).
Their economic power is primarily thanks to a broad range of production and publishing activities, i.e.
internal growth, but also thanks to acquisitions and mergers.
(The biggest media corporation, Time Warner, was created in 1989 as a result of a merger between Time
Incorporated and Warner Communications Incorporated).

Media freedom and objectivity declining

The slogans under which the first media appeared, freedom of expression, freedom of writing,
principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity or, even better, fair reporting, are today thrown into question
by the fact that commercial values in the media have taken root with primacy.
It is precisely economic market relations – which guide transnational companies, after integrating with one
another in the above two ways, to ruthlessly enter national and international arenas –that have a fatal affect
on the character and structure of media programs. As a result, the general trend of media insistence on
entertainment and light contents is a consequence of the almost completed commercialization of the media.
The famous saying that the media create the culture of entertainment is now at work. This has a negative
effect on program quality and the demands of public opinion which is under its influence, and it promotes
an elitist consumer culture within the broader society.
Poor and less developed regions in terms of information and communications experience a particularly big
effect on this character of the modern media. The local cultural and political media landscape of these
countries is strongly affected by the operation of political and media systems of wealthy countries.

IMF blamed

Edward S. Herman and Robert W. McChesney, the two American university professors, say all
these processes in media systems, along with countries which TNC and their influences originate from, are
also supported by economic giants such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which, through some of
its programs, facilitates media penetration of the great powers into underdeveloped countries.
The marketing – media – TNC – IMF scheme operates throughout the global system, stimulating
application of neo-liberal rules based on penetration of private investments and reduced social
appropriations that can be a very dangerous combination in a system of extreme inequality.

Hapless media standardization

Standardization of media, first of all through the structure and content of programs in all types of
media, may influence the particularity and sustainability of authentic characteristics of national cultures
which succumb to the consumer spirit of the media industry conglomerate. But these processes may result,
and are already resulting in a loss of public journalism and criticism of journalists, who often face the
dilemma of whether to write truthfully and accurately (?) or not to allow themselves to be neutral in writing
for the sake of – higher interests of the media giants they work for. Instead of civil journalism, what is
present is new journalism with products which constitute commodities, with journalists who balance among
neutrality, hushing up truth and a media system insensitive to the local and the regional needs.

How to combat the alternate media?

A solution to preserving national and media authenticity and pluralism is in alternative non-profit
media which would form a non-profit public sphere. Consequently, decentralization of global media and
economic giants is possible through concentration of alternative media markets.
Alternate media could be developed at local level, and after that at a higher level.

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