By Mary Hickman
Media globalization cannot be stopped. It is a result of new communications technology. It is also the prerequisite and facilitator for all other forms of globalization. Multi-national media is critical to global industries. Many Americans feel that we ought to enjoy the benefits of media globalization, such as globalcommunication, rather than fearing and attempting to avoid the consequences—which ironically include hindrance of free speech.
Despite the benefits, there are also very real consequences. A majority of all media is owned by a very small percentage of wealthy corporations. Local media is being swallowed alive by conglomerations. Freedom of speech is threatened by these multinationalcorporations; they drown out the voice of local media with profit-maximizing formulas. Media moguls have the most to gain from globalization of media. Their power is concentrated; they have merged, often with companies that are unrelated to the field, as when GE bought NBC (Pappas, 2004). Naturally, the political ideas and bias of GE can be seen in NBC: GE expels criminal amounts of pollution. Therefore,pollution is not a topic covered by NBC. Imagine, for example, what our local news would sound like if it had been bought by Phillip-Morris (Pappas, 2004).
Multi-national media corporations produce products which maximize their profits while decreasing the cost of production. Globalization has made it “easy to shift production to low-wage, high-repression areas of the world….and…easy to playoff one immobile national labor force against another” (Chomsky, 1994). Jobs which might usually have been performed locally are being shipped internationally and performed at less than half the cost. Corporations are increasing profit by cutting costs and selling to an international audience. Meanwhile, the American middle class is disappearing along with the jobs. Robert McChesney, in adocumentary titled Orwell Rolls in His Grave, stated that the income for the wealthiest 1% of Americans has risen 141% over the past twenty years. The income for the American middle class, however, has only risen a pathetic 9%. These statistics ought to appall and frighten, yet they go largely unnoticed by the American people because they are not handed over to us by our media (Pappas, 2004). CharlesKlotzer of St Louis Journalism Review: “The top 5% is capturing an increasingly greater portion of the pie while the bottom 95% is clearly losing ground, and the highly touted American middle class is disappearing”. Klotzer claims that the media intentionally ignore these facts (Klotzer, 2004).
The benefits of media globalization may make it difficult to see these consequences, which are oftensubversive. After all, why should the media inform us about the negative effects of their global dominance? To do so does not support their main interest: profit. According to Noam Chomsky, “Their first interest is profits, but broader than that. It’s to construct an audience of a particular type…One that is addicted to a certain life-style with artificial wants” (Chomsky, 1996). The wealthiestcountries have the resources to produce the most media; therefore, the media delivered to the global audience will promote the culture of the wealthiest countries. And it is the wealthiest minority within these countries who defines the content of the media, thereby influencing culture around the world.
The multi-national media corporations are not held accountable for their actions. Only thegovernment has the power to regulate media; in the past twenty years there has been a rising trend in decreasing regulation for the media. Between 1980 and 2000, the U.S. witnessed an “unprecedented historical explosion of mergers” (Bennett, 2000). These corporations were allowed to merge at least in part due to free market principles on behalf of the government. However, one of the consequences...