Media imperialism

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Media imperialism is a theory based upon an over-concentration of mass media from larger nations as a significant variable in negatively affecting smaller nations, in which the national identity of smaller nations is lessened or lost due to media homogeneity inherent in mass media from the larger countries.[1]

History and background[edit]

The Media Imperialism debate started in the early 1970s when developing countries began to criticise the control developed countries held over the media. The site for this conflict was UNESCO where the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) movement developed. Supported by the MacBride report, "Many Voices, One World", countries such as India, Indonesia, and Egypt argued that the large media companies should have limited access to developing countries. This argument was one of the reasons for the United States, United Kingdom, and Singapore leaving UNESCO.

In 1977, Oliver Boyd-Barrett's "Media Formation Model" framed media imperialism as the relationship between different national media systems, particularly through power imbalances, and the relationship they have to historical political systems. It emphasized the industrial arrangements of media in wealthier nations and the imposition of those arrangements as “models” for foreign markets, with the most powerful producers becoming normative in their financing, structure and in the dissemination (and to some extent, content) of their products.[2] Boyd asserted a typical arrangement in which news agencies, adopted the structures, roles and “task behaviors” of their parent companies who are also providing financial support.

Later during the 1980s and 1990s, as multinational media conglomerates grow larger and more powerful many believe that it will become increasingly difficult for small, local media outlets to survive. A new type of imperialism will thus occur, making many nations subsidiary to the media products of some of the most powerful countries or companies. Significant writers and thinkers in this area include Ben Bagdikian, Noam Chomsky, Edward S. Herman, Armand Mattelart and Robert W. McChesney. However, critics have responded that in most developing countries the most popular television and radio programs are commonly locally produced. Critics such as Anthony Giddens highlight the place of regional producers of media (such as Brazil in Latin America); other critics such as James Curran suggest that State government subsidies have ensured strong local production. In areas such as audience studies, it has been shown that global programs like Dallas do not have a global audience who understand the program the same way.[3]

A media source which ignores and/or censors important issues and events severely damages freedom of information. Many modern tabloid, twenty-four-hour news channels and other mainstream media sources have increasingly been criticized for not conforming to general standards of journalistic integrity.

Media Imperialism is not always an international occurrence. When a single company or corporation controls all the media in a country, this too is a form of Media Imperialism. Nations such as Italy and Canada are often accused of possessing an Imperial media structure, based on the fact that much of their media is controlled by one corporation or owner.



The United States' corporate media coverage of events has been seen to limit the freedom of the press. Integrity can be lost among media giants. This combined with the control and flow of information reduces the fairness and accuracy of news stories. American news networks like CNN also often have large international staffs, and produce specialized regional programming for many nations.


In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi operates Italy's top TV stations with the Mediaset empire, and the public broadcaster RAI has been subject to political influence. Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has warned of formal political influence in stifling the media. In April 2013 comedian Beppe Grillo accelerated the debate within Italy about the independence of media from political interests, releasing poll results showing that out of 95,000 responses 99 percent wanted a public broadcast channel free from political meddling, and 52 percent wanted more investigative journalism about domestic issues. He wrote in a blog post, 'a part of the Italian population is living in a gigantic Truman show, and responsibility for this is entirely due to Italian journalists, with the usual few exceptions...RAI has to be reorganized and transformed into a public service following the model of the BBC without any connection to the parties...' [4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kalyani Chadha, Anandam Kavoori. "Media imperialism revisited: some findings from the Asian case". Media Culture & Society. Retrieved 2011-04-21. 
  2. ^ Boyd-Barrett, Oliver (1977). "Media imperialism: towards an international framework for the analysis of media systems". Mass communication and society: 116–135. 
  3. ^ Liebes, Tamar; Katz, Elihu (2004). The export of meaning : cross-cultural readings of Dallas (2 ed.). Cambridge: Polity Press. ISBN 978-0-7456-1295-9. 
  4. ^ April 4, 2013 Italy living in Gigantic Truman Show.