Lecture #2—January 15 2014
History and Infrastructure of Global Communication
1. Understand media and communication in the historical context of imperial expansion and rivalry;
2. Map out the technological and regulatory foundations of global media and communication
1. International communication networks have developed largely in response to, and at the same time
been shaped by, the needs of economic, military and political powers
2. International organizations play a key role in shaping and regulating the global communication
3. The global communication infrastructure has been largely transferred from the public to the
Highlights : History
1. Electric telegraph and imperial expansion
2. New agencies
3. Radio and propaganda
4. Voices of the Third World and Nwico
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational strucutres needed for the operation of asociety or
enterprise, or services and facilities necessary for an economy to function. It can be generally defined as
the set of interconnected structural elements that provide framework supporting an entire structure of
development. It is an important term for judging a country or region’s development.
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of
a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function. It
can be generally defined as the set of interconnected structural elements that provide framework
supporting an entire structure of development. It is an important term for judging a country or
1. Technologies: satellite; fiber optic cable
2. International Organizations: WTO, ITU, UNESCO, ICANN
The International Telegraph Union (predecessor of International Telecommunication
Union) was founded in 1865.
The first commercially successful transatlantic telegraph lines were laid in 1866.
The telegraph lines from Britain to India were connected in 1870.
Eastern Telegraph Company was formed in 1872.
Australia was linked in 1872.
The first telegraph line across Pacific was completed in 1902.
Communication Networks and Colonial Expansion What was the significance of communication networks to empires?
information at the heart of capitalism – information about businesses, stocks, currencies,
commodities, harvests, extractive products, etc (p.9);
carrier of military intelligence (p.4);
administrative control of colonies (p.3)
The telegraph cable networks served and developed as a result of colonial expansion.
Eastern Telegraph Company (Britain) and Western Union Telegraph Company (USA) owned 75
per cent of the world’s cables (p. 7)
The Rise of News Agencies?
News agencies are media organizations (wholesale media) that write and distribute stories and
their components, such as images and interviews, to the news media (retail media such as
newspapers and broadcasters).
“The establishment of the news agency was the most important development in the newspaper
industry of the nineteenth century, altering the process of news dissemination, nationally and
internationally” (Thussu, p. 9)
Havas (later AFP, established in 1835, France-based)
Wolff (established in 1849, Germany-based)
Reuters (established in 1851, Britain-based)
Formed in 1870
Apowerful influence in world opinion
Reuters was the most powerful of the three
Radio in Its Early Years
Radio is a media technology that permits one person or organization to communicate with
many receivers over large distances via the electromagnetic spectrum and radiated
In its early years, radio was perceived as a tool of communication for ships at sea (radio
navigation, ship-to-shore communication, etc.)
Early international conferences were held, attended by a dozen or so major powers at the
time, where issues were settled concerning radio equipment standards, procedures to
minimize interference, and allocate radio frequencies.
The first-come, first-served nature of frequency allocation privileged powerful nations in
North America and Europe (McPhail, p. 105).
Radio and Propaganda
“Propaganda is the management of collective attitudes by the manipulation of significant symbols.”
Lasswell, H. D. (1927a). The theory of political propaganda. American Political Science Review, (21) ,
The first mass medium to reach illiterate populations;
Perceived as authoritative and up to date
Giving political leaders direct access to the public
War Propaganda on Radio Battle of theAirwaves
The Soviet Union - Radio Moscow (1925)
Nazi Germany: “the most modern, the strongest and the most revolutionary weapon
which we possess in the battle against an extinct world” (David Hendy, 2000,
Radio in the global age. Cambridge: Polity, p. 21)
Japan - NHK
Britain – BBC World Service
USA - VOA (1942)
Cold War Propaganda on Radio
The Cold War gave rise to an explosion of government-funded international broadcasting in multiple
Radio Moscow: communist propaganda targeting the Eastern Bloc and the Third
VOA, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL): anticommunist
propaganda,American way of life
NWICO (New World Information and Communication Order)
UN resolution on the NWICO (1978)
The International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems was set up in
1979, known as the MacBride Commission, to study contemporary communication
problems, and identify possible solutions according to the specific needs of developing
The MacBride Report, presented at the UNESCO general conference in 1980 – the highest
point in the NWICO debates
4 Ds Formula: Nordenstreng, K. (1984). Defining the new international information order.
In G. Gerbner & M. Siefert (eds.), World communication. New York and London:
democratize the international information and communication system, overcoming one-
way flows and promoting the right of peoples to acquire a comprehensive picture of the
world while participating in the international exchange of information.
decolonize the system, reducing dependency on northern countries by fostering self-
determination and local cultural identities.
demonopolize the system, reducing the influence exercised by transnational corporations so
that every state could develop their own independent information systems.
development, through the creation of national communication policies, information
infrastructures, national and regional information agencies, and journalism training
Waning of the NWICO
Western opposition, led by the neoliberal administrations in the US and Britain
Vulnerable to Western critiques because of a strong role that NWICO attributed to
governments in the Third World
Incapacity to engage a wider public in discussions Post-1980s worldwide trends of privatization and deregulation of communication
Global Communication Infrastructures – Technological and Regulatory
Technologies: satellite and fiber optic cable
Regulatory regimes: ITU, UN, WTO, Intelsat, etc.
In 1946, the concept of geostationary satellite was developed.
In 1957 the Soviets launched the satellite Sputnik, which transmitted radio signals.
In 1962, the world's first communications satellite, Telstar, was launched byAT&T.
In 1964, the Tokyo Olympic Games were broadcast live via satellite.
In 1975, Home Box Office (HBO) began transmitting television programs to cable
Satellite transmission facilitated the explosion of cable television systems in the US over
the next decade.
DTH (direct-to-home) services developed, albeit slowly, in the 1980s; Direct TV was
established in 1994.
Intelsat (International Telecommunications Satellite Consortium)
Intelsat was established in 1961 after the UN General Assembly introduced a resolution
stating that global satellite communications should be made available on a
In 1965, Intelsat established the first commercial satellite communication system.
It was controlled and owned by 144 governments.
“Intelsat operates as a wholesaler providing satellite services to users through Intelsat
members… Intelsat customers are primarily major telecommunications operators in each
nation throughout the world” (McPhail, p. 112).
The fiber optic cable system expanded greatly between 1999 and 2002, thanks to the
dotcom boom. Over half of the 1.1 million km of cable today was laid then.
Fiber optic submarine cables are largely owned by private firms, which make money by
selling Internet bandwidth to internet service providers.
Privatization of Global Communication Infrastructure
Worldwide deregulation and privatization of national telecom sectors
Privatization of satellite systems
In 2001, Intelsat became a private company.
Intelsat is the only international communication agency that started as part of the UN, but was
World Trade Organization (WTO)
Created in 1995, successor of GATT (GeneralAgreement on Trade and Tariffs, 1947)
157 member states as of Sept. 2012, representing more than 97% of total world trade Aim: to eliminate national obstacles to the import and export of goods and services.
It is the most powerful global media policy institution, as it creates pressure to liberalize
and privatize state-run media and telecom firms and can legally enforce its rules by
imposing large trade sanctions on member nations that hinder the free movement of goods
UN-Affiliated International Organizations
International Telegraph Union, created in 1865 and renamed International
Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 1932
Created in 1945
World Intellectual Property Organization, created in 1967
Through the ______debates in the 1970s, UNESCO put issues of international
communication on the map.
Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001)
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (also
known as Convention on Cultural Diversity, adopted in 2005 and coming into force in 2007)
Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity
Article 1 – Cultural diversity: the common heritage of humanity
Culture takes diverse forms across time and space. This diversity is embodied in the uniqueness and
plurality of the identities of the groups and societies making up humankind. As a source of
exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as
biodiversity is for nature. In this sense, it is the common heritage of humanity and should be
recognized and affirmed for the benefit of present and future generations.
Article 8 – Cultural goods and services:commodities of a unique kind
In the face of present-day economic and technological change, opening up vast prospects for
creation and innovation, particular attention must be paid to the diversity of the supply of creative
work, to due recognition of the rights of authors and artists and to the specificity of cultural goods
and services which, as vectors of identity, values and meaning, must not be treated as mere
commodities or consumer goods.
Convention on Cultural Diversity
The US and Israel voted against it, but it nevertheless came into force after being
ratified by more than 30 countries.
It recognizes the dual nature of cultural expressions as objects of trade and symbols
of cultural value, and recognizes the sovereign right of governments to formulate and implement
cultural policies for the protection of cultural diversity.
Non-binding, merely reaffirming the rights of states to protect and promote cultural
diversity International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
The ITU has long focused on the technical aspect of global communications. It
coordinates the global use of the radio spectrum (for telephony, data, TV and radio);
coordinates allocation of satellite orbits
establishes global standards fostering seamless interconnectionof different
telecommunications systems (e.g. standardization of equipment and protocols)
Yet these issues are not merely technical.
The Maitland Commission
In response to criticisms from developing countries, the ITU established the Maitland Commission,
which produced a report in 1985.
The report addressed “the inequities in the distribution of telecommunications systems and services
between core and other nations.” It pointed to telecommunications infrastructure as a necessity,
rather than a luxury, for all countries hoping for economic and social development.
It “altered the traditional role of ITU. No longer was ITU a simple technical and engineering
meeting. In the future, it would have to take into account the peripheral nations’ concerns about
issues such as access to and equitable distribution of the radio spectrum and other issues” (McPhail,
ITU’s Challenges Today
Liberalization and privatization of telecommunications worldwide are changing the nature
of the ITU today, with the balance of power shifting from governments to the private sector. As a
result the ITU needs to respond to the oftentimes conflicting needs of powerful corporations and
World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)
WSIS was held in two phases:
2003, Geneva, Switzerland
2005, Tunis, Tunisia
In the spirit of NWICO, it aims to “make the IS equitable and inclusive by discussing
issues such as access, capacity, and connectivity” (p. 117)
It also deals with issues concerning the governance of the internet, such as the current US-
centric practice of assigning internet domain names.
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers)
Not affiliated with the UN.
Non-profit organization formed in 1998, based in California.
Setting policy for and managing the allocation and assignment of Internet protocol addresses
“Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are unique numeric identifiers that are needed by every
device that connects to the Internet. They are a shared common resource that must be
managed carefully to ensure the continued growth and stability of the Internet.”
Adding new names to the top level of the Internet domain-name hierarchy
Some top-level domains or TLDs
general TLDs (gTLDs): .edu, .gov, .mil, .com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, .name, .coop, .aero, .museum, .pro ccTLDs (country code TLDs)
iDNs (international domain names)
Lecture #3—January 15 2014
Large Transnational Media Conglomerates
Goals: To understand the market power of a small number of global media firms; to reflect upon some
of the implications of such dominance
1. The global media marketplace is characterized by the concentration of power in a few very large
transnational media conglomerates
2. All the first-tier media conglomerates are mostly based in the US, Europe and Japan
First-Tier Media Conglomerates
Mergers and acquisitions in the past three decades (a few examples)
1985: News Corp bought Twentieth Century Fox.
1986: General Electric purchased NBC.
1988: Sony acquired CBS Records and Columbia Pictures.
1989: Time Inc. merged with Warner Communications.
1994: Viacom purchased Blockbuster video distribution and Paramount.
1995: Disney bought Capital Cities/ABC.
1995: Seagram acquired Universal Studios.
1996: Time Warner bought Turner Broadcasting Systems
1998: Bertelsmann purchased Random House.
2000: Time Warner merged withAmerica Online.
2000: Viacom purchased its former parent, CBS.
2002: GE acquired Telemundo and Bravo.
2004: GE acquired 80% of Vivendi’s Universal
2004: Sony merged with Bertelsmann Music Group to form Sony BMG Music
At the same time, the US was no longer the single dominant power in the global marketplace, with
the takeover of some Hollywood studios by foreign corporations, the move of German, French, and
Canadian companies into global cultural industries, and the entrance of the thenAustralian-based News Corporation into television and satellite businesses in NorthAmerica, Europe, andAsia. (McPhail,
Acloser look at News Corp.
News Corporation “provides the archetype for the twenty-first century global media firm… and is the
best case study for understanding global media” (Herman and McChesney, 1997, p. 70)
Four stages of News Corp’s expansion:
1. The expansion of newspaper interests in Britain and later the US in the 1960s and 1970s.
2. The expansion in the US in the 1980s: from print media to film and television.
3. Global expansion from 1990 based on satellite broadcasting – BSkyB and STAR TV.
4. The takeover of DirecTV in 2003,America’s largest provider of satellite television
Content producing units: Fox film studios, Fox Television, Fox Sports, etc.
Distribution platforms: BSkyB in Britain, STAR TV in Asia, Sky in Latin America, Direct TV and Fox
in the US
General Electric (NBC-Universal)
Four advantages of US media firms
English is the language of the largest global segment of media outlets with purchasing power.
English-language, media products have a natural advantage because they are easily exportanle to
and readily usable by many media outlets around the world.
They have access to substantial discal resources and capital markets, allowing them to fiancne
multimillion-dollar productions or take-overs
US television netowrks overwhelmingly prefer US made primetime shows
Hollywood and New York have access to the broadest access to the broadest range of acting talent,
producers, writers and directors. Some of the talent if from other core nations such as Australia,
Canada, Britain, France or Japan. They best global actors and actresses work primarily or
exclusively on US productions.
Across Europe, 60 to 80% of their purchases of foreign television programming are made in the
At Least 50% of the move screens in Europe show Hollywood production
Bertelsmann, Sony, Vivendi SA(France)
Conglomeration: Conglomeration refers to the process whereby media firms began to have majo
holdings in two or more distinct sectors of the media, such as book publishing, recorded music and
Synergy: Synergy refers to the situation where different pars of a whole work together to achieve
a desirable outcome. Simply defined, it means that the sum of the different parts is larger than the
whole. In the media industry, it refers to maximizing company product sales through cross-selling
and cross-promotion strategies. This is the fundamental logic behind media conglomeration.
Ex. Disney’s Lion King: Lion King movie, Lion King Broadway show, a TV series, and 185 items of
merchandising. (Same thing for Hannah Montana)
“When you can make a movie for an average cost of $10 million and then cross promote
and sell it off of magazines, books, products, television shows out of your own company,”
Viacom’s Redstone said, “the profit potential is enormous.” (Viacom CEO Redstone,
quoted by Robert McChesney in Rich Media, Poor Democracy) Suppose that you work at a synergy department of a media firm, and your job is to promote
a movie made by the firm’s film studio. Design a way of maximizing the synergic effects
by mobilizing all media and communication resources at the firm’s disposal (everything
you can imagine).
There are two types of advertising networks: first-tier and second-tier networks. First-tier advertising
networks have a large number of their own advertisers and publishers, they have high quality traffic, and
they serve ads and traffic to second-tier networks. Examples of first-tier networks include the
major search engines. Second-tier advertising networks may have some of their own advertisers and
publishers, but their main source of revenue comes from syndicating ads from other advertising
Second-Tier Media Firms:
Western Dominance of the Global Media Marketplace
NorthAmerica and Europe accounted for 82% of exports of books (in terms of value), 94% of
newspapers and periodicals exports and 80% of recorded media exports
Top Five Global TV networks in 2005
MTV Networks 418 million households
Discovery Channel 409
BBC World 330
CNN International 200
STAR 103 (as of 2005)
What do advertising agencies do?
Media planning and buying
New areas: the internet, data mining, behavior modeling, customer retention work
Some observations about the leading advertising agencies:
All are based in NorthAmerica, Europe or Japan.
All have a major presence in North American markets.
All have an extensive network of subsidiaries and offices around the world.
The large firms are becoming larger in order to offer a broader range of services to current and
All are equipped with extremely creative personnel and cutting-edge technologies, dominating the
global advertising market.
Questions from the lecture (potential exam questions?)
What are the largest entertainment corporations in terms of annual revenue?
Which country is the largest exporter of books? Of newspapers/magazines?
Which country is the largest television program exporter?
What kinds of television programs are most likely to find a global audience? What TV channels reach the large numbers of households globally?
What are the most widely circulated newspapers and magazines in the world?
What are the most widely circulated business newspapers and magazines in the world?
What are the leading global advertising agencies?
What are the implications of the dominance of global media by a few entertainment-
oriented media conglomerates?
EXTRA NOTES FOR LECTURE #3
Second-Tier Media Firms
Before the 1980s, and the trend of global expansion of media firms (time arner, Disney..etc) we
could see that each media firm only focused on one area
Ex. Disney was primarily an animation company with many theme parks
Ex. Time : was a publication company owning magazines and corporations
Ex. News Corp based in Australian, used to be a company simply owning news trends in
These companies today are too big not to consider them big conglomerates
The question is what happened:
• Privatization: denationalization ▯changing something from state to private ownership or control
• It opened up space for a huge numbers of mergers and depredation
• Avery small numbers of media conglomerates dominating
The US was now no longer the biggest conglomerates, it was no longer a dominant power in the
global market: You have
Time Warners : owns a lot of shit
Disney: owns a lot
MIDTERM QUESTION: You must be familiar with at least ONE media conglomerates : be able
to name at least 10 media companies owned by this company (TIME).
Five media firms: TIME, DISNEY, NEWS CORP, VCOM,
Amongst these 5 our are the largest: TIME, D