Flower delivery in Iran


Media * FAQ * Write for The Iranian
* Editorial policy

Media village
Multicultural analysis of the impact of increasingly globalized Western media

November 15, 2001
The Iranian

Introduction to Media, Sex, Violence, and Drugs in the Global Village by Yahya Kamalipour and Kuldip R. Rampal (2001, Rowman & Littlefield)

Long before Marshall McLuhan had proclaimed the impending emergence of the "Global Village" as a result of the development of modern communication technologies, controversial American author Herbert Schiller was already warning about the social implications of the expanding Western culture through Hollywood movies and American television programming. Writing in Mass Communication and American Empire in 1969, Schiller quoted Wilson P. Dizard, a former United States Information Agency, as saying that "American TV products, for better or worse, are setting the tone for television programming throughout the world... The United States now leads all other countries combined twice over as a program exporter."

Dizard, noting that American movies and television programming were being widely exported around the world, said that the prime time programming schedule of a typical Australian television station is "virtually indistinguishable from that of a station in Iowa or New Jersey." In Mexico, for example, "programming is a carbon copy of the United States network fare... U.S. shows dominate Mexican prime time, right through the evening."

The U.S. program suppliers, said Schiller, "are willing to distribute their wares at lower than production costs (sometimes at only a tiny fraction of cost) because the foreign sales are bonus revenues, profits made from programs which have already more than covered their production costs." Such a "dumping" of American programming overseas, said Schiller, "further discourages domestic program production in all but the richest countries."

Schiller noted that the implications of the cultural influences brought about by American programming were far-reaching, especially for developing peoples of the world. "Everywhere local culture is facing submersion from the mass-produced outpourings of commercial broadcasting in the United States," he said, adding, "To foster consumerism in the poor world [through American entertainment programming] sets the stage for frustration on a massive scale." Schiller graphically outlined the nature of frustration facing youth in poor countries as a result of "uncontrolled exposure to Western culture." He noted:

Young people have at their disposition leisure occupations designed for the youth of capitalist countries: detective novels, penny-in-the-slot machines, sexy photographs, pornographic literature, films banned to those under sixteen, and above all alcohol. In the West, the family circle, the effects of education and the relatively high standard of living of the working classes provide a more or less efficient protection against the harmful action of these pastimes. But in an African country, where mental development is uneven, where the violent collision of two worlds has considerably shaken old traditions and thrown the universe of the perceptions out of focus, the impressionability and sensibility of the young Africans are at the mercy of the various assaults made upon them by the very nature of Western culture. His family very often proves itself incapable of showing stability and homogeneity when faced with such attacks.

On the eve of the dawn of a new century, the global village is a reality made possible by the communication revolution -- satellite and cable television, multinational media conglomerates such as those of Rupert Murdock and TIME-Warner communications, and, increasingly, the Internet. The editors of this proposed book project, having traveled to many countries on at least five continents, have seen first-hand the reality of the pervasiveness of the American culture through movies and television programming. American television is practically everywhere and young people are tuning it in at a viewing scale unparalleled in the ratings levels of indigenous programming. When the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, for example, canceled MTV for contractual reasons in 1994, young Singaporeans spoke out in frustration and rejected an alternative local music video program as "unexciting." MTV has not only been a vehicle for the globalization of American music but has attracted a young audience throughout the world, including in such countries as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kenya, Chile, and so on.

And in India, as a result of the government's "open skies" policy since the introduction of economic liberalization in 1991 Australian media mogul Rupert Murdock's STAR-TV, based in Hong Kong, has become readily available through hundreds of unregulated cable operations all over urban India. Practically overnight, millions of Indian television viewers, long used to the government-run TV stations' staid educational programming and dramas based on tiresome Indian mythology, found themselves tuning in to the likes of "Baywatch," "Dallas" and "Dynasty." In a land where kissing has never been allowed in Indian movies or television programming, TV viewers could now experience the "sex and violence" culture long decried even in the West. Further globalization of television has brought scores of additional channels to Indian viewers, especially since Indian laws do not bar people from setting up their own satellite dishes. Even in countries where satellite receiving dishes are illegal (e.g., Iran and Saudi Arabia), millions of people disguise their satellite receiving dishes so that they can view Western and non-Western satellite television channels, including STAR TV, Z-TV, MTV, CNN, SKY-TV, and others.

Although Indians of all ages have been fascinated with Western television, a variety of articles and ratings surveys indicate that the youth of India are particularly enamored with Western television and cultural values that it projects. According to the International Communication Bulletin, MTV and VH-1 are the most popular channels among teenagers in India followed by channels carrying dramas and movies. Programming that typically carries advisories for parents in the United States so as to protect their children is routinely available from Western channels in India without any such advisories. Crabtree and Malhotra, writing in the Fall 1966 issue of the International Communication Bulletin, say that "early indications suggest that the presence of Western programming via satellite has had some influence on the social discourse of middle class Indian youth."

One such indication, which seems to confirm Schiller's concerns about the harmful effects of Western television on youth in developing countries, comes from a Reuters news story in 1995. The story said that frustrated with the increasingly promiscuous ways of their teenage children exposed to Western television, residents of a high-rise apartment building in Bombay dumped their television sets in tandem out of their windows. A Washington Post story on June 19, 1998, reported from India that the state government in Maharashtra, with Bombay as its capital, has "empowered its culture minister to police sexually suggestive lyrics in movies and music video programs."

This book will examine the implications of the pervasiveness of the Western culture, especially American culture, in several countries around the world. This topic will be explored within the framework of the often unique political and media policy factors present in different countries. For example, does India's democratic political system, which by nature points to an open skies and liberal media policy, exacerbate the negative effects of the often permissive offerings of Western television and movies? At the same time, for example, does Singapore's authoritarian political system and the resulting protective media policy lessen the negative influences of the Hollywood fare?

More specifically, this volume is intended to achieve the following objectives:

1) To present a multicultural analysis of the impact of increasingly globalized Western media in the areas of sex, violence and drugs around the world.

2) To discuss whether the adverse effects of "cultural imperialism" projected by media scholars decades ago are becoming evident in diverse cultures in this age of media globalization.

3) To discuss whether the political ideology factor exacerbates or mitigates the effect of media in the global village in the areas of sex, violence and drugs around the world.

4) To discuss the implications of the effects of media globalization for media policy makers around the word.

This book should be of interest to general readers, particularly students, teachers, and researchers in a variey of disciplines, including mass communication, international communication, intercultural communication, international relations, cultural studies, and journalism.


Dr. Yahya R. Kamalipour is professor and head of the Department of Communication & Creative Arts at Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, Indiana. For more information, please visit his web site at kamalipour.com.

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Yahya Kamalipour

By Yahya Kamalipour

Kamalipour's features in iranian.com

Kamalipour's homepage


Read or watch?
That is the question in the age of computers
By Fereydoun Hoveyda


* Recent

* Cover stories

* Writers

* All sections

Flower delivery in Iran
Copyright © Iranian.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Terms for more information contact: times@iranian.com
Web design by BTC Consultants
Internet server Global Publishing Group