Since its birth in 1959, it seems that Indian television has developed in a way that is similar to most of the world’s broadcasting sectors. Conquered by technological progress, particularly by the major advance that the introduction of satellite transmissions represents, the Indian television sector broke with its old practices to enter the era of globalization to which the opening to foreign players, the competition regime and the respect of commercial requirements are essential components.
The successive evolutions that Indian television underwent seem to confirm Marshall McLuhan’s theory of a “global village”, which describes how the world has been contracted into a homogenized space by the media revolution.
However, this simplistic vision denies the specificities of India as a culture and as a country, which became the specificities of Indian television. With 22 official languages, an enormous and heterogeneous population, one of the world’s largest territories and a tendency to continuously swing between tradition and modernity, India admittedly adapted its television sector to the globalized context but also imposed its restrictions and particularities. How did Indian television become integrated to the globalized media system while protecting its identity and imposing its requirements?
With the successive evolutions – the technological progresses, the shift from an educational project to a competitive, consumer-oriented and profit-making market and the exportation of foreign programs and production methods – it underwent in the early 20th century, Indian television indeed got integrated into the globalized and transnational media system. As such it became a privileged target of know-how transfers coming from the West and a market of economic interest for foreign players.
Heterogeneity constitutes India’s major specificity and its television sector could not have got established regardless to it. Even if it decided to enter the process of globalization, Indian television endeavored to defend and promote the country’s linguistic, territorial, social and cultural diversity. The Indian broadcasting space definitely does not get homogenized.
On the contrary, it constantly reports the main oppositions that ceaselessly stimulate and drive the Indian population – tradition and modernity, local and global, urban and rural, well-off and impoverished. The example of the Indian television sector demonstrates that India is not passively affected by globalization but constitutes one of its major actors: it manages to make the country’s voice heard and to impose its requirements and its power of cultural appropriation at international level.
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