VOL-II, ISUUE-I (Spring 2009)
MEDIA IMPERIALISM AND ITS EFFECTS ON CULTURE OF PAKISTAN
A CASE STUDY OF YOUTH OF MULTAN
Muhammad Ashraf Khan (Ph.D)
Iram Arif, Research Scholar
Pakistan is one of those developing countries which is suffering from Americanization and cultural invasion due to the foreign channels on satellite transmission and cable TV network, and the situation remains blurred because of the lack of research and investigation in this field. This research study has been undertaken to identify and analyze cultural aspect with regard to the entertainment programs of Pakistani private TV channels and it has been investigated that how much it has effected the youth of Multan .
For this purpose it has been explored what effects foreign channels have on Pakistani channels then these effects have been correlated with the effects on society through the analysis of survey data, by using two methodologies of content analysis and survey research.
The results of survey study prove that foreign TV entertainment programs are changing the minds and beliefs of the youth by influencing Pakistani independent channels.
The globalization and the proliferation of the mass media confronted the risks of cultural uniformity with the possibilities of unprecedented cultural integration. The problem starts with the world or global culture. In this context of integrated world, similar apprehensions of loss of national culture & identity are justifiably felt by peripheral nations as this unbridled and free flow of global communication poses genuine threats to the autonomy and the viability of the cultures of weaker and economically more dependent societies, primarily indigenous third world cultures, or even to the cultures of some first world societies, whose ‘authenticity' and uniqueness were seen as perilously vulnerable to the products of Hollywood and U.S Television. For example, European Union policies designed to create ‘a trade barrier to limit American entertainment imports in the name of cultural ‘preservation'.
However it is a known fact that Hollywood is a much more advanced industry, their moral slandered are different from eastern moral values. Now despite the counter flow of cultural products by eastern media, US-led western media domination has not diminished. Actually it is a channel of influence that flows from Hollywood to Bollywood and then to our Pakistani media.
In this perspective the protection of cultural identity became a particularly hot issue since 1970's debates on cultural imperialism through media globalization, initiated by the agents of localization consisting of nationalists, religious and ethnic movements and leaders.
In order to understand the concept of national cultural identity, it must be clear what is meant by “Culture”. Culture can be defined as a complete way of life of people, the shared attitude, values, goals and practices that characterize a group, their customs, art, language, literature, religion, philosophy, etc, the pattern of learned and shared behavior among the members of a group. In short culture is a way of life shared by the members of a society. This includes their ideas, beliefs, language, values, knowledge, customs and the things they make.
Culture exists in the mind or habit patterns of the members of a society. It is visible in the behaviour of individuals, as they engage in various forms of learned behaviour. Every society has its own culture which is distinguishable from the other ones. Thus a nation possessing a specific culture has its own discrete identity which we can say the national cultural identity.
While discussing the media globalization we talk of global culture or global homogenization, as media has a direct impact on cultures by mesmerizing viewers with entertainment cultural products, fast music, popularizing fast food points such as KFC, McDonald, Pizza Hut etc. Introducing the Mcworld culture. Through the cable TV & satellite a multiplicity of channels are available worldwide which are broadcasting the same or homogenized cultural products & content to the global audiences or viewers. In this way “global culture” has become a source of universality which is the basic aim of media globalization.
Media globalization is assumed to erase difference among human societies & create a universal culture in which particular characteristics of national & local cultures are no longer relevant. Global Media have taken the form of huge culture industries through the transnational media concentration & conglomeration.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The modern production and distribution of mass media have the ability to bring homogeneous cultural messages to every corner around the world.
Media Imperialism occurs when one society media dominate another country's culture. The medium of cable television is a prime example to illustrate the effect of media imperialism. Cable TV & Satellite transmissions, for better or worse, has made the world a global village. It is our TV viewing that shapes our understanding of the world and ourselves. However, it is saturated with foreign influence and media imperialism. How much world television through satellite & cable TV has affected our culture and identity is yet to be explored. Media globalization is seen as a modern form of imperialism and more believe that this globalization will destroy individual cultures & diversity.
Due to the increasing & explosive growth of cable TV & satellite transmissions, this study is going to be conducted under the title of “Media Imperialism & its effects on the culture of Pakistan: A case study of youth of Multan”
In this study it has been explored up to what extent cable TV & satellite transmissions have effected the youth of Multan . Especially their thoughts, beliefs & cultural values have been impacted or not.
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
Modern media technology has now created the possibility and even the Likelihood of a global culture. The satellites and cable TV are sweeping away cultural boundaries. Global entertainment industries shape the perceptions and dreams of ordinary citizens, wherever they live. As current globalization requires comprehensive transformation of a society, its impact on language and culture can be detected in every facet of life. The global economy has been influencing traditional values and ways of thinking for a long time. The concept of global village has changed the outlook of future society.
In this study it will be analyzed how much our indigenous or independent media channels are being influenced due to the competition of satellite & cable channels. For this purpose, the researchers have undertaken an analysis of media cultural products. This analysis increases the importance of the study because if the local media of any country absorbs the change from the foreign channels then the viewers are readily persuaded to adopt those changes.
In every society it is the natural phenomenon that the true representative of its culture is said to be always the educated class which firstly brings any change and then pervades it in to the society. This factor adds to the importance of the study that in this research work the educated and enlightened youth of university standard has been surveyed. For this purpose the researchers have approached the students of B.Z.University Multan as a part of this case study so that the change in the mindsets of the youth can be explored.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of the study is to examine the nature of cultural globalization through media and its effects on national and local culture with special reference to Pakistan in the shape of effects on the youth of Multan.
In addition to the main objective of the study the other relevant objectives that are going to be focused are as follows:
To explore the term of globalization with focus on the process of its implementation in the world.
Cultural domination and the threat to cultural identity were treated by the MacBride Commission (1980). The commission saw cultural identity endangered by the overpowering influence on and the assimilation of some dominant cultures, though these nations may well be the heirs of more ancient and richer culture. Since diversity is the most precious quality of culture. (International commission for the study of communication problems, 1980).
In 1973 the non-aligned summit at Algiers stated, ”It is an established fact that the activity of imperialism is not limited to the political and economic domains, but encompasses social and cultural areas as well, imposing there by a foreign ideological domination on the people of the developing world.
Schiller (1976) in his work “Communication and Cultural Domination” proposed the use of the term “Cultural imperialism ” to describe and explain the way in which large multinational corporation, including the media, of developed countries dominated developing countries. He has been lauded as one of the major proponent of cultural imperialism theory.
He interpreted that western civilization produce the majority of the media (film, comics etc) because they have they money to do so. The rest of the world purchases those productions because it is cheaper for them to do so rather than produce their own. Therefore, third world countries are watching media filled with the western world's way of living, believing and thinking. The third world cultures then start to want and do the same things in their countries and destroy their own culture.
Barrett (1977) conducted the research on international communication under the heading “media Imperialism”. He defined media imperialism as “the process whereby the ownership, structure, distribution or content of the media in any country are singly or together subject to substantial external pressures from the media interests of any other country or countries without proportionate reciprocation of influence by the country so affected.” Ogan (1988) posited the axiom that “Third world consumers of (foreign) media
products will be influenced by the values inherent in that content, values of an alien and predominantly capitalist system”. Thussu (2000) in his article ‘Indian media – from colonial to global' says “Internationally, despite a counter flow of cultural products, as exemplified by the network such as Zee, US-Led western media domination has not diminished”.
Tomlinson (1991) in his work “Cultural Imperialism: A Critical Introduction” argues that a chief concern identified in the media globalization is that increasing consolidation, globalization and deregulation of media conglomerates has been “Preparing the way for the inexorable advance of a one-dimensional' capitalist culture”. Hamelink (1983) argues that the cultural values evolve to fit the economic and environmental constraints faced by the society. When values that may be perfectly harmless in one society are adopted by or imposed upon others, the effects can be devastating. According to the Hamelink, C.J. ‘Cultural synchronization' also Known as cultural globalization or imperialism refers to the process by which dominant cultures infiltrate and supercede satellite cultures.
Many critical theorists have coined various phrases in reference to the notion of “cultural imperialism” and have done work in this direction.
Such as Galtung (1979) has posited the term structural imperialism, Cultural dependency and domination by link (1984) and Mohammandi (1995). Further more McPhail (1987) has coined the term electronic colonialism. Sui-Nam Lee (1988) has posited the term Communication Imperialism and economic imperialism has been proposed by Mattleat (1994). Similarly the researches that had been conducted in Bahauddin Zakariay University Multan, with reference to cultural impact through TV viewing i.e., Najia. (2001-2003),”Impact of cable TV transmission on the residents of Multan ”, Qurrat-ul-Ain (1996-98), “Cultural invasion an analysis of PTV's entertainment fare and its effects on youth”, Afira Irum (1998-2000),”Impact of satellite channels on the residents of Multan ” et al. concluded that it has been putting negative impact on the social and moral consideration of people
RESEARCH QUESTIONS & HYPOTHESES
For this research study, following research questions & hypothesis have been formulated:
Are the foreign channels (cable TV channels) invading into our cultural values?
Are we going to adopt the Global culture?
The greater the exposure to the satellite/cable TV Entertainment programmes, the greater the effects of foreign culture on our youth & cultural identity.
The greater the exposure to foreign channels, the greater the effects on modern orientation of youth.
In this study qualitative content analysis technique has been employed by which it is analyzed how the foreign cultural or entertainment products are invading and influencing our indigenous media and cultural products. In order to examine the media to media effects, the researchers have conducted the comparative study between the Pakistani independent channels and the foreign especially Indian entertainment channels.
To evaluate the media to media effects, the researchers analyzed how the different entertainment cultural products are being influenced. For this purpose, following categories were selected:
CATEGORIES OF PROGRAMS
TV programmes are categorized into Film, Drama, Music, Fashion and Film Award Show for this study.
UNIT OF ANALYSIS FOR CULTURAL PRODUCTS
The smallest element of a content analysis that is actually counted is called the unit of analysis. In this research study the units of analysis are as follows:
Themes , Dresses , Element of Romance., Background Sets, Language , Use of intoxicants , Male-female Friendship , Jewelry and use of Indian style fashion products , Show of Indian religion and traditions , Saying hi, buy instead of Salam.
Analysis explicit that Pakistani Independent drama channels such as Indus Vision, ARY digital, Geo entertainment etc, are trying to compete with this Indian and western channels. When exposed to the external environment of modernity, the Pakistani TV channels in fact could not cope with the adverse situation. Their main hardship seems to be the dilemma of how to come out of their traditional yoke of conservatism and face the brunt and attacks of modern channels. So most of the Pakistani entertainment TV channels appear to be the imitation of alien channels.
The co-productions have changed the face of today media industry. .Our independent media channels are not confined to the combine productions, they have taken the rights from (PEMRA) Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to broadcast pure Indian productions from their own channels due to which the Pakistani viewers can hardly judge whether it is Pakistani channel or an Indian channel.
Thus our media channels being influenced form foreign Indian channels serve as the trendsetter for our Pakistani viewers and society. When the viewers observe that our media is absorbing the change whether it is in the form of dresses, Jewelry, language or other cultural values such as male actors hugging and handshaking with female actresses then the viewers are easily persuaded to adopt these changes or at least they become mentally liberal which is an initial step towards change.
CONTENT ANALYSIS FINDINGS
While taking into account the qualitative content analysis of media cultural products which includes different categories of programs like film, drama, music fashion & film award shows revealed that eastern media is being impregnated with foreign satellite entertainment programs.
Our media is exhibiting foreign films without any substantial censorship policy. Due to this openness Pakistani media is absorbing negative influences too.
In order to measure the media to individual (society) effects, Survey research technique has been carried out which entails four followings steps:
1- Selecting a Representative Survey Sample
The population of the research study consists of educated youth selected from B.Z.U. Multan ranging from 18-24 age group, having cable TV at home. To select the representative sample from the population, stratified random sampling method has been chosen as the characteristics of the sub sample include the variable of age, gender and education. For survey research a total sample of 200 respondents consisting of 50% males and 50% females has been selected.
2- Designing a Survey Questionnaire
Questionnaire with closed ended questions has been designed in written form to get the required information from the respondents or sample.
3. Administering the Survey Questionnaire
At this step the written Questionnaire were personally delivered to the respondents.
4- Analyzing Survey Results
After collecting survey data, the survey results have been tabulated and analyzed statistically by using the percentage method.
SURVEY RESULTS AND INTERPRETATION
On the basis of survey research following results have been obtained.
Globalization is a process which is encompassing every facet of life but the globalization of communication industry has introduced a unique cultural phenomenon with its global repercussions. Due to the advancement of the new communication technologies, cultures are blending and mixing and values from dominant cultures are being adopted by other nations. Thus it is giving rise to a brand new global culture which goes beyond the boundaries of any specific nation-state same as Featherstone & Mcluhan hold this view in their treatises regarding the emergence of new global culture.
Media globalization has taken the form of media imperialism with the emergence of media empires. These global media empires manipulate the global networks of communication to serve their ends by promoting the foreign ideologies, values and traditions. This media imperialism has resulted in the homogenization and standardization of the whole world. Thompson supports the same view about the ongoing growth of global, cultural and technological integration through media.
Researcher has measured the cultural globalization through media with special reference to Pakistan by employing two research methods.
Qualitative content analysis technique is used to evaluate the media to media effects by conducting the comparative study between the Pakistani independent cable TV channels and the foreign entertainment channels which concludes that foreign media channels are emerging as overwhelmingly powerful in content of their respective influences & impacts and are invading our media while on the other hand our media do not have equal force to promote its own culture.
Foreign satellite entertainment programs have drastically impacted our media cultural products including different categories of programs such as film, drama, music, fashion and film award shows.
Cable TV network in our country is giving undue projection to foreign films based on taboo themes, obscene shorts, erotic and intrigued stories with out any reciprocity at parallel level.
Similarly Pakistani independent drama channels are presenting Indian drama productions which are undermining our drama industry. Our independent drama channels are not only confined to the display of Indian productions but also imitating and following Indians drama format which is not in harmony with our culture, norms and traditions.
Fashion impulses originate from foreign channels and are followed blindly by our fashion industry as the fashion Pakistan fluctuates with Indian & western fashions.
In the field of music Pakistani channels are copying Indian music shows in which boys and girls sing and dance together. Pakistani media channels also arrange to show the frequently held Indian film festivals & shows and present their actors and actresses as icons & idols for our media industry.
Barrett in his work “media imperialism” also signifies the absence of proportionate reciprocation by the affected country's media.
At the second level to gauge the media to individual (society) effects, researcher has conducted the survey research with the students of BZU Multan as a part of this case study so that the change in the individuals (society) can be explored.
While tracing the consumption pattern of the viewers researcher finds out according to the cultivation theory based on viewing hours by 32% are the light viewers, 47% respondents are the medium viewers and the remaining respondents come under the category of heavy viewer ship. Majority of them turned towards cable TV network mainly for entertainment.
Choice of programs varies among males and females. Females mostly like to watch Indian drama channels whereas males mostly watch HBO, stars movies, news channels and private CD channels.
Majority of the viewers get inspiration about new fashion trends from cable network and adopt these new trends with different perceptions as 31% respondents answered that they adopt these fashion and trends to look modern while 26.5% adopt it to attract others.
Most of the respondents are of the opinion that female dresses are being westernized and 76% respondents agreed that these changes in costumes are due to the cable TV network especially because of the Pakistani independent channels as they have the due share in the promotion of western life styles.
Pakistani viewers whole life style is being eclipsed by foreign media. Cable TV channels have become the source from which the young viewers get the inspiration about new trends, fashion and dresses. In a way our language and literature are being adversely affected by the onslaught of foreign channels. So our youth is overawed with English language. People resort to ostentatious and lavish way of living. They love to dine out at expensive hotels and western food chains along with celebration of unnecessary events and festivals which in turn invokes the class consciousness in the society.
Schiller (1976) in his work “communication and cultural domination” proposed the use of the term “ cultural imperialism” to describe that third world countries are watching media filled with the western world's way of living, believing and thinking. The third world cultures then start to want and do the same things in their countries and destroy their own culture.
Ogan (1988) also propagate the same views about media hegemony. Thus the findings of the research unequivocally corroborated the research hypotheses which are as follows: “the greater the exposure to the satellite / cable TV entertainment programs, the greater the effects of foreign culture on our youth & cultural identity” because cable TV channels are ruining the youth's mind of today, it exposes viewers to the taboos and immoralities of the modern world such as obscenities including profanities, eroticism and the like are supported to have huge effects on the mind of the young generation. Consequently whatever the viewers watch on screen definitely affect them to a certain degree.
Similarly Hamelink (1983) argued that cultural globalization or imperialism refers to the process by which dominant cultures infiltrate and supersede satellite cultures where the values that may be perfectly harmless in one society are adopted by or imposed upon others, then the effects can be devastating.
The above discussion also validifys the sub hypothesis: “the greater the exposure to foreign channels, the greater the effects on modern orientation of youth”Researcher concludes her case study conducted with the educated youth of Multan that the exposure to the foreign media channels on cable TV are affecting their mindsets although the adoption of such an attitude is bit slower as compared to other mainstream cities of Pakistan because Multan is renowned as a city of Sufis and Saints with the decades long history of tradition and culture.
Although the current change has subliminal effects on our youth however younger generation is more vulnerable who is being nurtured under the petty influence of liberal media.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Dr. Muhammad Ashraf Khan is the Chairman of the Department of Mass Communication, Bahauddin Zikaria University , Multan , Pakistan .
Iram Arif is a Research Scholar at the Department of Mass Communication, Bahauddin Zikaria University , Multan , Pakistan .
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