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In terms of national identity, identify and analyse some of the roles television plays in the processes of globalization and identity formation. Discuss with reference to at least two British TV programs. In this essay I will be looking at the way television has an impact on the way has an affect on the way globalization, culture and identity is formed. To look at this I will be looking at the way America is a dominant force when it comes to marketing there shows to other countries and the way British shows have difficulty being accepted and also how British shows manage to create an identity through they way they act.
American sitcoms have been a constant success in this country with such successful imports such as Friends, Seinfeld and Frasier, but what is the reason for there success in this country, looking at globalization, culture and politics I hope to discover why this is. First I will be looking at what globalization is and how this affects the way different programs from around the world are received, I will look at the differences in culture between not just the UK and America but various other countries that there shows are exported to. What is globalization in television?
Since the 1980s there has been a steady rise in the transnational television in terms of that more than ever people own television sets and the fact that new technology has such as satellite and cable has allowed access to a completely new market. This has then lead to questions being raised about culture and cultural identities due to the fact that programs are now being beamed from all around the world. To understand how global television works you must first understand ‘society’ since global television has an impact on society because when shows are being shown to different societies that there is always a different reaction to them.
According to Kellner (1990) there is in excess of 750 million television sets being used in over 160 countries that are being viewed by over 2. 5 billion people a day. No doubt these figures have reached even a higher number today due to the fact there is now digital television and cable. The main fact with television that it is always changing, and what is yesterday is not what it is today, and what it is today is not what it will be tomorrow. However with television continuing this change, and as it continues its global expansion that there has been an uneven shift towards the west and in particular the USA.
With the television originally being developed in the west and especially in America this has caused a shift in Americas favor so therefore they have been able to dictate what is shown not only in there country but by exporting there products to the rest of the world. However even though this is the main trend at the moment of America one way influence over the rest of the world this is not what globalization is about, globalization is more about a multi-directional and a multi-dimensional set of processes.
Global television although it has allowed the development of new technologies with the influx ok Sky television and cable, has also been met with skepticism due to the fact that some countries prefer that the majority of there programs are created from there own country however with the dominance of America in the television market and there technology especially with Sky TV, this has been hard to regulate.
Most countries have described these as threats because they believe that within the economics of television, the regulation of television and the identities, especially national identities, which are deemed to be in part the product of national television services. In other word what they are saying is that the majority of shows on there national television should be produced from there own country, and not to be overawed by Americas dominance and say no to all there imports.
However this is a hard thing to do, due to the fact of Americas power and there development of new technology that has helped bring forward the Television, so with countries accepting this new technology there are therefore also accepting the influx of America shows. Although there is a reluctance to accept these shows, I’m not talking about a reluctance to accept one or two shows.
I’m talking about accepting a lot of shows that outnumber countries own creations., however when the shows are shown and they become a success the channels controllers decide then to import more and more shows therefore they will start to outnumber there own shows. But if they are so against then importation of these shows why do they import so many, it’s because they are a success and they attract viewers, this will now lead on to why are these shows successful in our country.
In Britain the dominant television company was the BBC this had dominated the television scene since it was created in the 1920s, until 1954 when the television act brought commercial television into the frame. The first such television station set up was Independent Television (ITV). The 1954 act had obliged that the ITV adopt norms of quality and balance, which were in essence the same of the public service developed by the BBC.
In the 1980s another channel was set this was, Channel 4, unlike both the BBC and ITV channel 4 was not a maker of programs but a publisher, programs that were watched on channel either came from a mixture of ITV companies, imports or independent producers, this allowed the channel to show a different variety of programs that would not follow the same pattern as a BBC show, another purpose with channel 4 is to experiment with shows to bring in something that is not the same trend and to play with form and content.
With the introduction of BskyB and cable, there was a limited impact at first, however over the years the performance picked up due to the fact there were more people getting Sky and Cable, and also there was an even more diversity of shows coming from the USA. This was shown according to the magazine Screen Digest, ‘that in 1994 there was a market penetration of 12. 4 per cent rising to 14. 8 percent’ and ‘in 1992 the BskyB audience share 4. 8 per cent (the Guardian august 1992) but this had risen to 8.
5 per cent (screen digest 1995) this was showing that even though it was a slow and steady process but cable and sky where both starting to become dominant forces in the television markets. Comparing how we run and regulate our television companies to America is a good way of seeing how the different cultures accept the way there television Is run, already I have looked at the way the British television system is run, now I will look at the way the American television system is run.
The way the American television is organized is very complex, there are many ‘players’ as they call them, these are the television stations, the networks and the productions companies, at the moment there are over 700 television companies, these stations serve the area that they are in geographically by purchasing and transmitting programs. There are not many television stations that produce there own programs apart from the news, so the majority of programs come from either the networks such as FOX and HBO or from production companies.
In America a majority of television is also filled with advertising, these adverts are a massive source of income for the networks, especially when there are huge events going on for example the superbowl, as this is one of the biggest sporting attractions in America and millions of people will watch it therefore there has always been a bidding war to get there adverts shown at this time.
That is one major difference compared to the way television is run in Britain, the American television network is dominated by adverts where as we have channels such as the BBC channels that do not rely on adverts. Compared to British television stations, American networks are by law not allowed to produce any primetime material, therefore this stations rely a lot on production companies to make there shows, this is the complete opposite to the BBC, who will produce there own shows.
But even though our stations produce our own shows, and American networks rely on outside productions companies, why is it that there shows are more successful in our country than our shows are in America? Is it to do with culture, already have I explained the difference in the way that the American and British television systems are different, but why is it that we easily accept these shows on to our channels.
One reason I believe that these shows are shown over here and why there is so many is that fact that the majority of the American shows are shown on channel four, channel four being the channel that is most like a American network as it relies on independent productions and therefore will export shows that are successful in other countries. Looking at American shows compared to British shows, British shows tend to be more about there won culture and how Britain is, although there is a tendency to see that Americans are very patriotic, I believe that this is not represented in there shows compared to British shows.