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The Future of Health Care Globalization

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Most of us have at least a rough sense of what globalization means when it comes to cars, movies, vegetables, and information technology. But what does it mean when it comes to health care?

A Google search on “health care” and “globalization” mostly leads to articles that focus on medical tourism, which is when patients travel—sometimes across the world—to receive treatments. When patients travel for care, sometimes at the urging of large employers or whoever is paying for the service, it’s typically to receive treatment at a discount from what it would cost near their homes, though sometimes it’s to receive treatments that aren’t available locally, or that in some way aren’t delivered as well.

But as I’ve written here in this blog and elsewhere, medical tourism isn’t the big trend it’s been anticipated to be, and it will likely become even less important. That’s because we’ll see the worldwide gaps in health care prices, availability and quality start to shrink, as countries with advanced health care systems grapple to control their costs, and other countries improve quality and access. The result is that more people will be able to get the treatment they need more locally at costs that aren’t terribly out of line with other places in the world. This is a very good thing, because people who need medical treatment shouldn’t have to add the burden of travel to their already challenging situations.

Also turning up on Google under search results for health care globalization, but in a distant second place, is the idea that physicians, nurses and technicians will move to other countries to work. That is, health care professionals are to some extent becoming exports via immigration or expatriation. That’s a trend that’s been going on for a long time, and will likely continue for the foreseeable future, given mismatches in various countries’ health care demands, labor costs, employment levels, and training availability, among other factors. But whether it’s a good representation of globalization is another question.

Health care globalization will ultimately be about the more fluid flow of services, expertise and information across borders. That particular interpretation of health care globalization is scarce among the Google search results. A small exception is the World Health Organization’s website, which while it more prominently cites medical tourism and immigrant/expat health care labor as examples of globalization in health care, also includes these three lines as defining the trend:

The increase in private companies, including foreign companies, which provide health services and health insurance schemes.

The use of new technologies, such as the Internet, to provide health services across borders and to remote regions within countries.

....Openness to foreign goods, services, ideas and policies, and people.

Buried in those few words is a world of opportunity to improve health care around the planet, and one that could go far beyond sending patients to other countries for hip replacements or importing nursing staff. Therein lies the future of health care globalization: Collaborations between private health care organizations, insurers, NGOs, government agencies, academic centers, investors and others, coming together across borders to sustainably expand and improve health care systems.

Those collaborations can involve the flow of experts who visit to help design and develop hospitals and clinical programs, of procedural and physical tools that enable improvements, of telemedicine that augments local capabilities, of private investment to support new projects, and of managers who can teach others how to keep things running smoothly. We at Johns Hopkins Medicine International have been helping to provide and orchestrate these sorts of collaborative services in dozens of major health care projects all over the world for two decades, and more and more of our fellow academic medical centers and other organizations are joining in.

Yes, we’re also involved in helping patients who travel internationally for treatment, and in bringing in staff who come from other countries to work at our hospitals and projects. Sure, that’s part of globalization. But health care globalization at its best will be about bringing a vast range of international resources to bear on comprehensive local solutions. It has been exciting for us at JHI to help pioneer that trend, and I look forward to watching it grow in the coming decade.

Journalism & Mass Communication / Globalization of Health
« on: March 12, 2015, 02:50:29 PM »

Globalization of Health

This refers to the increasing globalization of the health sector. Traditionally, the health sector has been closed and nationally focused, but this is beginning to change. Examples of the globalization of health include:

The increasing mobility of health professionals across borders; for example, the United Kingdom now actively recruits nurses from developing countries.
The increasing mobility of health consumers (people); for example, patients travelling abroad to access medical care.
The increase in private companies, including foreign companies, which provide health services and health insurance schemes.
The use of new technologies, such as the Internet, to provide health services across borders and to remote regions within countries.
A measure of the globalization of a health system would include its degree of openness to foreign goods, services, ideas and policies, and people.

Journalism & Mass Communication / How Culture Controls Communication
« on: March 11, 2015, 02:46:30 PM »
How Culture Controls Communication-3

Cultures are either affective or neutral
With much angry gesturing, an Italian manager referred to the idea of his Dutch counterpart as “crazy.” The Dutch manager replied. “What do you mean, crazy? I’ve considered all the factors, and I think this is a viable approach. And calm down! We need to analyze this, not get sidetracked by emotional theatrics.” At that point, the Italian walked out of the meeting.
In international business dealings, reason and emotion both play a role. Which of these dominates depends upon whether we are affective (readily showing emotions) or emotionally neutral in our approach. Members of neutral cultures do not telegraph their feelings, but keep them carefully controlled and subdued. In cultures with high affect, people show their feelings plainly by laughing, smiling, grimacing, scowling – and sometimes crying, shouting, or walking out of the room.
This doesn’t mean that people in neutral cultures are cold or unfeeling. But in the course of normal business activities, neutral cultures are more careful to monitor the amount of emotion they display. Research conducted with people who were upset about something at work, noted that only some cultures supported expressing those feelings openly. Emotional reactions were found to be least acceptable in Japan, Indonesia, the U.K., Norway and the Netherlands – and most accepted in Italy, France, the U.S. and Singapore.
It’s easy for people from neutral cultures to sympathize with the Dutch manager and his frustration over trying to reason with “that excitable Italian.” After all, an idea either works or it doesn’t work – and the way to test the validity of an idea is through trial and observation. That just makes sense – doesn’t it? Well, not necessarily to the Italian who felt the issue was deeply personal, and who viewed any “rational argument” as totally irrelevant!
In today’s global business community, there is no single best approach to communicating with one another. The key to cross-cultural success is to develop an understanding of, and a deep respect for, the differences.

Journalism & Mass Communication / How Culture Controls Communication
« on: March 11, 2015, 02:44:22 PM »
How Culture Controls Communication-2

Cultures are either sequential or synchronic
Some cultures think of time sequentially – as a linear commodity to “spend,” “save,” or “waste.” Other cultures view time synchronically – as a constant flow to be experienced in the moment, and as a force that cannot be contained or controlled.
In sequential cultures (like North American, English, German, Swedish, and Dutch), businesspeople give full attention to one agenda item after another. In many other parts of the world, professionals regularly do several things at the same time. I once cashed a traveler’s check at a Panamanian bank where the teller was counting my money, talking to a customer on the phone, and admiring the baby in the arms of the woman behind me. To her, it was all business as usual.
The American commoditization of time not only serves as the basis for a “time is money” mentality, it can lead to a fixation on timelines that plays right into the hands of savvy negotiators from other cultures. A Chinese executive explained: “All we need to do is find out when you are scheduled to leave the country and we wait until right before your flight to present our offer. By then, you are so anxious to stay on schedule, you’ll give away the whole deal.”
In synchronic cultures (including South America, southern Europe and Asia) the flow of time is viewed as a sort of circle – with the past, present, and future all inter-related. This viewpoint influences how organizations in those cultures approach deadlines, strategic thinking, investments, developing talent from within, and the concept of “long-term” planning.
Whether time is perceived as a commodity or a constant determines the meaning and value of being “on time.”  Think of the misunderstandings that can occur when one culture views arriving late for a meeting as bad planning or a sign of disrespect, while another culture views an insistence on timeliness as childish impatience.
Orientation to the past, present, and future is another aspect of time in which cultures disagree. Americans believe that the individual can influence the future by personal effort, but since there are too many variables in the distant future, we favor a short-term view. This gives us an international reputation of “going for the quick buck” and being interested only in the next quarterly return. Even our relationships seem to be based on a “what have you done for me lately?” pragmatism.
Synchronic cultures have an entirely different perspective. The past becomes a context in which to understand the present and prepare for the future. Any important relationship is a durable bond that goes back and forward in time, and it is often viewed as grossly disloyal not to favor friends and relatives in business dealings.

Journalism & Mass Communication / How Culture Controls Communication
« on: March 11, 2015, 02:42:42 PM »
How Culture Controls Communication -1

Business leaders know that intercultural savvy is vitally important – not just because they have to deal increasingly with globalization, but also because the work force within their own national borders is growing more and more diverse.
Culture is, basically, a set of shared values that a group of people holds. Such values affect how you think and act and, more importantly, the kind of criteria by which you judge others. Cultural meanings render some behaviors as normal and right and others strange or wrong. (The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help – or Hurt – How You Lead devotes two chapters to the nonverbal aspects of cross-cultural communication, and in my next blog I’ll cover some of the body language nuances of global business meetings.)
Every culture has rules that its members take for granted. Few of us are aware of our own biases because cultural imprinting is begun at a very early age. And while some of culture’s knowledge, rules, beliefs, values, phobias and anxieties are taught explicitly, most is absorbed subconsciously.
Of course, we are all individuals, and no two people belonging to the same culture are guaranteed to respond in exactly the same way. However, generalizations are valid to the extent that they provide clues on what you willmost likely encounter – and how those differences impact communication. Here are three such generalizations.
Cultures are either high-context or low-context
Every aspect of global communication is influenced by cultural differences. Even the choice of medium used to communicate may have cultural overtones. For example, it has been noted that industrialized nations rely heavily on electronic technology and emphasize written messages over oral or face-to-face communication. Certainly the United States, Canada, the UK and Germany exemplify this trend. But Japan, which has access to the latest technologies, still relies more on face-to-face communications than on the written mode. The determining factor in medium preference may not be the degree of industrialization, but rather whether the country falls into a high-context orlow-context culture.
In some cultures, personal bonds and informal agreements are far more binding than any formal contract. In others, the meticulous wording of legal documents is viewed as paramount. High-context cultures (Mediterranean, Slav, Central European, Latin American, African, Arab, Asian, American-Indian) leave much of the message unspecified – to be understood through context, nonverbal cues, and between-the-lines interpretation of what is actually said. By contrast, low-context cultures (most of the Germanic and English-speaking countries) expect messages to be explicit and specific. The former are looking for meaning and understanding in what is notsaid – in body language, in silences and pauses, and in relationships and empathy. The latter place emphasis on sending and receiving accurate messages directly, and by being precise with spoken or written words.
One communication trap that U.S. business leaders may fall into is a (costly) disregard for the importance of building and maintaining personal relationships when dealing with individuals from high-context cultures.

Journalism & Mass Communication / Cultural Aspects of Communication
« on: March 11, 2015, 02:37:36 PM »
Cultural Aspects of Communication

Marcia Carteret, M. Ed. in Key Concepts in Cross-Cultural Communications

Have you ever wondered why people from some cultures talk so loud and seem aggressive? Why do they stand so close to you when they speak? Or maybe you’ve wondered why some patients seem reluctant to speak or maintain eye contact? Could that be cultural? Why do people from some cultures make it difficult to get a straight answer to a simple question? Why do some people from some cultures seem not to follow our advice? And why is it that some patients never show up on time – don’t they own a clock? Is a lax attitude towards time a cultural or individual behavior? Neither? Both?
Intercultural communication in its most basic form refers to understanding how people from different countries and cultures behave, communicate and perceive the world around them. Given the growing multicultural population in the US, intercultural communication research is actively being applied in healthcare settings so that doctors and their staffs can relate effectively to their patients from diverse cultural backgrounds. We will share that research and specific tips with you.
One of the most important skills needed for intercultural communication is the ability to recognize, in any given interaction with someone from another culture, which of their behaviors are universal human behaviors and which are peculiar to a cultural group(s) and which are specific to that individual. We will provide tips on how to distinguish these behaviors.
The most effective communication skills are the same in an intercultural setting as those we use to communicate within our own culture: listen without judging, repeat what you understand, confirm meanings, give suggestions and acknowledge a mutual understanding. However, when we are communicating with a different culture, we need to add to these basic skills. We need to build some understanding of how, even with the best intentions, our misperceptions can cause confusion and create misunderstanding. In patient-doctor interactions, the stakes are high. Confusion over which bus takes you downtown is one thing, but misunderstanding that leads to misdiagnosis is quite another.
At first glance, it might make sense to learn the beliefs, customs, and taboos of each “foreign” culture we interact with regularly. But memorizing lists of dos and don’ts is both impractical and ineffective because every situation is different. It is the context of an intercultural interaction that is key. By way of example, you might be told that in Japan it is customary to bow when you are greeting someone. True, but you need to understand the status relationships of the people involved to know how to bow. If you don’t bow appropriately, you will surely offend someone more severely than if you don’t bow at all because a Japanese person doesn’t expect a foreigner to understand their custom. In fact, many Japanese will say they prefer that foreigners not bow unless they really understand what the gesture means and the context of the interaction. Obviously, it would be peculiar to bow to a Japanese patient during an office visit here. It would be totally out of context.
If rote learning about beliefs, customs, and taboos is ineffective, then how can we learn to be better intercultural communicators? The answer lies in developing both an intercultural mindset and skill set. We need to learn to recognize cultural differences and also be able to maintain a positive attitude towards those differences. We need to develop a skill set, beginning with a thorough understanding of what culture is and what our own culture looks like. What lens do we look through when judging other cultures? Many Americans can’t say much when asked to describe American culture – just as a fish can’t describe the water it swims in. Our skill set also includes a thorough understanding of the difference between stereotypes and generalizations. Stereotypes are very destructive to good communication, but generalizations, if used mindfully, are necessary to making sense of the human experience.


Understanding the Importance of Culture in Global Business

Denise Pirrotti Hummel, May 2012

Our economic development will forever be defined as our ability to succeed internationally. PwC forecasts India’s real annual GDP growth until 2050 at 8.9 percent, Vietnam’s at 8.8 percent, and China’s at 5.9 percent. The list of fast-growing emerging markets goes on and on. The U.S. forecast is a meager 2.4 percent, comparable with most Western economies. The domestic companies that are likely to see incremental growth in the coming decades are those that are not only doing business internationally, but that are developing the strategic skill set to master doing business across cultures. Cross-cultural core competence is at the crux of today’s sustainable competitive advantage.
If one day you’re asked to manage a supply chain in Malaysia, the next day you’re managing your virtual team in China, and the next you’re optimizing your company’s call center in India, you know that it’s just not possible to be an expert in every culture or geography in which you do business. What is possible is developing the mindset of a globalist — or, in other words, mastering cross-cultural core competency.
If I tell you that when you engage in a sales call in the United States, the acceptable spatial proximity between you and your prospect is 2.5 feet, I have accomplished the equivalent of a fisherman giving you a fish. If I demonstrate to you, instead, how uncomfortable you feel when I say hello and proceed to shake your hand while standing 6 inches from your face, I have accomplished the equivalent of teaching you to fish. You now know that every culture has a specific, acceptable space proximity. By sheer observation, you have added this to your cross-cultural tool belt. The next time you get off the plane anywhere in the world, you will look around and observe how far apart people are standing, log that information somewhere in your busy brain, and proceed to your next meeting armed with information that will avoid instant discomfort and a potential disconnect that may jeopardize business with your international counterpart.
Now imagine if you could augment this simplistic metaphor incrementally, to every aspect in which culture impacts business.
A Framework for Understanding
Culture has many definitions. My own definition is that culture is our collective experience as a society, and its impact on our reaction and decision-making relative to every-day facts and circumstances.
Why is cross-cultural competence critical to your professional future and the viability of your company? It’s omnipresent in every business interaction and strategic decision. According to a May 2006 Accenture study, optimizing this process through training can increase productivity by 30 percent. For example, if a company’s director of marketing embarks on a campaign demonstrating how speedy its service is, when the underlying cultural motivation of the international customer is almost completely focused on customer service, the value proposition consists of selling ice in the wintertime — there’s plenty of it, and it was never wanted to begin with.
It is not feasible to be an expert on all the world’s cultures. It is possible, however, to incorporate a cross-cultural framework that improves cross-cultural understanding and interactions. One such framework, the Business Model of Intercultural Analysis [BMIA™], uses the following six “comprehension lenses” to examine enterprise-wide cross cultural challenges: cultural themes, communication, group dynamics, ‘glocalization,’ process engineering, and time orientation. Let us examine some examples of American executives interacting with Chinese executives to illustrate how a few of these comprehension lenses impact business.
Cultural Themes
Every society has its own “cultural themes,” which have a substantial impact on how that culture does business. Chinese cultural themes are rooted in folk belief and Confucian values, including filial piety, thrift, endurance, and trustworthiness. These values are deeply engrained in the Chinese psyche. The Confucian value of endurance has a profound impact on the business process. The members of a Chinese negotiations team will seek protracted negotiations to test their counterpart’s endurance. They will, therefore, typically initiate with an offer that is inconceivably low to enable extensive haggling, so as to demonstrate endurance and evaluate an adversary’s endurance. The unwitting Westerner may misinterpret this as unreasonable and storm out of the meeting, instead of participating in the “haggling dance” the Chinese executive is eagerly anticipating as normal and expected. The total disconnect causes a loss of business opportunity, or alternatively, leaves dollars on the table as the exhausted Westerner, unprepared for the duration of the exchange, makes price concessions way too early.
An understanding of the subtle challenges in the use of English with non-native speakers, as well as the nuances of non-verbal communication, is critical to achieving business objectives when operating across cultures. In East Asian cultures, communication is very subtle and indirect. Thus, the direct style of Western communication can easily create serious offense, despite the best of intentions. The term “no,” for example, is rarely used in deference to more indirect methods of communicating and an American may hear the Chinese cue for the word “no” — including the phrases “maybe,” “we shall see” and “we shall study it,” without ever realizing that these phrases are the Chinese equivalent of “no.” Failure to understand these cues wastes time and money, and is the basis of communication failure that can jeopardize the business objective. Failure to understand simple but subtle issues in communication may also cause both you and your counterpart to lose face. Creating a loss of face for your Chinese counterpart is devastating to the business relationship and often unrecoverable — leading once again to loss of opportunity.
Group Dynamics
This comprehension lens involves the understanding of how individuals from certain cultures interact in groups. An understanding of group dynamics in the target culture significantly impacts the sales process. In individualistic cultures, such as the United States, customers make most of their buying decisions individually, whereas in collectivistic cultures, decisions are significantly influenced by the group (family, extended family, network of friends and colleagues, and the community at large). While the decision-maker may appear to be at the negotiation table because that individual is the chairman of the company, the shots may be being called by individuals not present (father, grandfather or uncle, for example). In China, a highly collectivist culture, the marketing collateral and sales process needs to be targeted toward the group, and not toward the individual.
Global branding, messaging, corporate values, and marketing all have to be localized — thus the term “glocalization.” If a company’s headquarters is in Asia, with satellite offices in Europe and North America, the global brand, messaging, and indeed every type of communication, whether internal or external, needs to be translated in a way that is culturally fluent — not merely linguistically fluent. The value proposition of any communication may be entirely valid, but if it is presented in a way that cannot be “heard,” or that violates cultural norms or expectations, then the messaging, however significant, will fall on deaf ears.
Picture the financial loss when Disney opened “Euro Disney” in Paris and made the following mistakes:
•   Naming it the equivalent of “Dollar Disney” — as “Euro” is the nomenclature is associated by Europeans as their currency, not an abbreviation for their continent
•   Using plastic cutlery in a country that prides itself in the culinary experience
•   Touting Mickey Mouse and other characters as childhood heroes at the expense of the society’s actual childhood cartoon icons
•   Ignoring the necessity of providing kennels to a culture that so frequently travels with dogs
•   Not considering the “product unfriendliness” of having product instructions in English (despite the fact that most products were ready-to-use)
•   Not offering wine with meals
That failure to “glocalize,” among other strategic go-to-market mistakes, cost them dearly: After only two years in operation, they ran out of cash and had to borrow 175 million dollars to keep operating.
Process Engineering
There is a significant difference between a company that is multinational, and a company that is truly global. The difference is that a multinational company simply operates in multiple nations; a global company has embarked upon the journey of systematically updating its policies, procedures, and systems across multiple cultures. Some of the most significant challenges are often IT-related. Even given the incredible advances in modern-day technology, global companies still suffer from program and platform inconsistencies. Where technological practicality or the realities of budget do not permit complete integration, that disconnect must be evaluated and corrected. At a minimum, all offices in the operation must “know what they don’t know” regarding the business processes, IT systems, and the roll-out of global policy and procedure, to assure maximum efficiency, risk reduction and cost optimization. Typical examples include requests from finance in HQ in the United States requesting financial reports from satellite offices around the world. The HQ platform might have the capability to generate the report with the specific information and format requested in a blink of an eye (or at least the click of a mouse), but a satellite office in Senegal might require a programmer or a wiz with an excel spreadsheet over the course of a week to effectuate the same result. Knowing means that reasonable expectations for the deliverable can be set.
Time Orientation
The concept of time orientation refers to the way in which a society values, executes and utilizes time. In Western cultures, time is a commodity. If you’re not early, you’re late. Time is money. Time is divided into the sixty minutes of a standard clock. In two-thirds of the world, time happens “when it’s supposed to,” and is characterized as flexible and elastic. The most striking difference between China and Western cultures in this regard is the long-term orientation of the Chinese culture. The culture has survived for thousands of years, through flood and famine and having been invaded on all sides by multiple forces. The longevity of the culture combined with Confucian philosophy yields a long-term orientation that materializes in the business world in several ways. Short-term wastefulness in a supply chain, for example, is despised because thrift is a significant virtue, but professional development training that will lead to long-term corporate growth may see lavish expenditures. Business planning is not quarterly or annual, but often is anticipated for the next decade, or even decades.
Leveraging the Power of Culture
While the U.S. has enjoyed decades of domestic economic prosperity, recent economic challenges remind us that our future economic success revolves around succeeding in the global economy. It’s not about who’s bigger, better, brighter, or faster; it’s about who is empowered to leverage the power of culture to optimize an organization’s bottom line. Cross-cultural differences have time and time again been identified as the most significant impediment to successful international ventures and projects. These obstacles can be transformed into opportunities with a framework for tackling them head-on.

Looking West, Russia Beefs Up Spending on Global Media Giants

Despite a free-falling ruble and a wealth of other economic woes, the Russian government has announced a substantial increase in funding for state-run media outlets, a move analysts linked with the Kremlin's desire to win sympathies abroad.

The measure — which was stipulated in Russia's federal budget for 2015-17 — comes at a high-stakes period for Russian media.

Moscow has made clear its intent to broadcast its own narrative to international audiences, in a bid to counteract Western media outlets' largely negative coverage of Russian affairs.

Meanwhile, Russian lawmakers are grappling with legislation to diminish the presence of foreigners in media on its own soil. The State Duma passed in its first reading Tuesday a bill limiting foreign ownership of Russian media assets to 20 percent, a significant decrease from the current existing ceiling of 50 percent.

RT, which received 11.87 billion rubles ($310 million) in state funding this year, will receive 15.38 billion rubles ($400 million) in 2015, a figure nearly 30 percent higher than what the 2014-16 budget had initially allocated to the network. This represents a 41 percent increase in funding from what the Russian government had originally planned to set aside for RT in 2015, according to the RBC business news agency.

The 2015 state funding allocated for Rossiya Segodnya — a global news agency built on the vestiges of the liquidated RIA Novosti — represents triple what the authorities had planned, amounting to 6.48 billion rubles ($170 million).

The 2015-17 budget, Russia's trimmest since the 2008 global financial crisis, also allocates extra funds to domestic state channels, including those of the All-Russia State Television & Radio Broadcasting Company, albeit in smaller measure than for RT and Rossiya Segodnya.

The discrepancy between Russia's support for its domestic outlets and its international news agencies seems to stem from the varying nature of the audiences it hopes to target, analysts said.

President Vladimir Putin, whose approval rating reached a six-year high of 86 percent in May, has more convincing to do abroad than he does at home, according to Yury Saprykin, a prominent Russian media professional who formerly served as chief editor of Afisha magazine.

"The Kremlin feels it is important to provide the West, and mostly the more receptive portions of the population, with an alternative depiction of Russia's actions and policies," Saprykin said. "Western media almost exclusively portrays Russia negatively. The situation has only worsened with the crisis in Ukraine. Investing more into its international outlets is the Kremlin's way of trying to attract a Western audience that would be supportive of its policies."

The measure is meant to make Russia look "white and fluffy" despite facing isolation from the external world, political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin said in comments carried by RBC.

Margarita Simonyan, who serves both as the head of RT and the editor-in-chief of Rossiya Segodnya, defended the increased funds her organizations are set to receive.

Simonyan told RBC that the extra funding RT will receive is meant to support its creation of French and German-language channels.

The state's extra spending on Rossiya Segodnya is a necessary component of the agency's absorption of The Voice of Russia radio station, Simonyan rationalized.

With its latest largesse toward RT and Rossiya Segodnya, the Kremlin appears to be retreating from its former stance on the need to rein in funding for the country's information giants. 

Putin's decree to liquidate news agency RIA Novosti in December 2013 and supplant it with the global news outlet of Russia Segodnya was justified partially on financial grounds by Sergei Ivanov, the head of the Kremlin administration.

Ivanov said at the time that the new agency would represent a "more rational use of budgetary funds." Although he admitted the new agency's inception was meant to ensure the dissemination of Russia's state narrative among a broader audience, Ivanov said it was the initiative was also about reducing — and not increasing — funding.

"Money had nothing to do with it [RIA Novosti's liquidation]," said Anton Nossik, an entrepreneur who created many of Russia's leading online media outlets. "No one believed that explanation at the time. The reason behind the liquidation was to put someone close to Putin in charge. All the companies who are headed by people close to Putin receive more money, as a rule."

The organization's liquidation was combined with a changing of the guard. The longtime head of RIA Novosti, Svetlana Mironyuk, was dismissed in favor of the controversial Dmitry Kiselyov, a pro-Kremlin television host known worldwide for his homophobic and anti-Western tirades.

The allocation of extra resources to propagate Russia's state-approved news abroad, combined with the obedient management of state-owned outlets and the ousting of foreign-owned outlets from the national media market, has only strengthened the Kremlin's grip over an already tightly controlled media environment, according to Maxim Kovalsky, the former editor-in-chief of Kommersant Vlast magazine.

"The issue here is control," Kovalsky said. "Decisions made now about the media environment — like providing more funding to state outlets while restricting foreign ownership of Russian media  — are being led in the same direction: toward more control."

Journalism & Mass Communication / Global Media Ethics
« on: March 10, 2015, 05:46:19 PM »

Global journalism ethics, then, can be seen as an extension of journalism ethics — to regard journalism’s “public” as the citizens of the world, and to interpret the ethical principles of objectivity, balance and independence in an international manner.  Journalism ethics becomes more “cosmopolitan” in tone and perspective.
Components of global media ethics
The development of global journalism ethics has the following tasks.
Conceptual tasks
New philosophical foundations for a global ethics, which include:
• global re-interpretation of the ethical role and aims of journalism
• global re-interpretation of existing journalism principles and standards, such as objectivity, balance and independence
• construction of new norms and “best practices” as guides for the practice of global journalism
Research tasks
More research into the state of journalism, amid globalization:
• studies of news media in various regions of world
• studies on the evolution and impact of globalization in news media, with a focus on ownership, technology and practice
• studies on the ethical standards of new media in different countries
• studies on news coverage of international problems and issues
Practical tasks
Actions to implement and support global standards:
• application of this global perspective to re-define the coverage of international events and issues
• coalition-building among journalists and interested parties with the aim of writing a global code of ethics that has wide-spread acceptance
• initiatives to defend and enhance free and responsible news media, especially in areas where problems are the greatest.
How would a global ethics be different?
Philosophically, the distinct conceptual element of a global ethics can be summarized by three imperatives:
1. Act as global agents
Journalists should see themselves as agents of a global public sphere. The goal of their collective actions is a well-informed, diverse and tolerant global “info-sphere” that challenges the distortions of tyrants, the abuse of human rights and the manipulation of information by special interests.
2. Serve the citizens of the world
The global journalist’s primary loyalty is to the information needs of world citizens. Journalists should refuse to define themselves as attached primarily to factions, regions or even countries. Serving the public means serving more than one’s local readership or audience, or even the public of one’s country.
3. Promote non-parochial understandings
The global journalist frames issues broadly and uses a diversity of sources and perspectives to promote a nuanced understanding of issues from an international perspective. Journalism should work against a narrow ethnocentrism or patriotism. What do these three imperatives imply for specific standards of journalism, such as objectivity? Under global journalism ethics, objectivity becomes the ideal of informing impartially from an international stance. Objectivity in journalism has usually been understood as the duty to avoid bias toward groups within one’s own country. Global objectivity takes on the additional responsibility of allowing bias towards one’s country or culture as a whole to distort reports, especially reports on international issues.
Objective reports, to be accurate and balanced, must contain all relevant international sources and cross-cultural perspectives. In addition, global journalism asks journalists to be more conscious of how they frame the global public’s perspective on major stories, and how they set the international news agenda. The aim of global journalism should be more than helping the public sphere “go well” at home, as civic journalists say. The aim should be to facilitate rational deliberation in a global public sphere.
Global journalism ethics implies a firm journalistic response to inward-looking attitudes, such as extreme patriotism. It was disturbing to see how some news organizations during the Iraq War of 2003 so quickly shucked their peacetime commitments to independent, impartial reporting as soon as the drums of war started beating. Cosmopolitanism means that the primary ethical duty of a global journalism in times of conflict and uncertainty is not a patriotism of blind allegiance, or muted criticism. Public duty calls for independent, hard-edged news, along with investigations and analysis.
Problems and obstacles
Universal values?
Among advocates of global ethics, there is disagreement over whether ethicists need to identify “universal values” among all journalists, or humans. Do such universal values exist? What might they be?  Recently, a growing group of ethicists have attempted to identify a common core of values in various places: in codes of journalism ethics, in international treaties on human rights, in anthropological studies of culture.
One view is that neither universal values nor universal consent is required for a plausible, global code. This view sometimes stems from a contractual or ‘constructionist” view of ethics. The constructionist does not believe that ethics depends on “finding” or “discovering”, through empirical means, a set of universal values that all rational people acknowledge. Rather, the correct method of global ethics is to see whether all or most interested parties are able to “construct” and agree upon a set of principles through a fair process of deliberation. On this view, it is also not clear that a set of values must gain universal consensus — a demand that seems unduly strong, given the variety of new media in the world. A weaker requirement would aim at the construction of a set of principles agreed to by most major journalism associations and news organizations.
Note: On a constructionist approach to universals, see Ward, S. J. A., “Philosophical Foundations of Global Journalism Ethics,” Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 20(1), (2005), 3-21.
Also, see Black, J. and R. Barney, eds., Search for a Global Media Ethic. [Special issue]Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 17(4), (2002).
Getting specific:
Global journalism ethics will have to amount to more than a dreamy spiritualism about the brotherhood of man and universal benevolence. Conceptually, there is work to be done. Global journalism ethics must show, in detail, how its ideas imply changes to norms and practices. What exactly do journalists “owe” citizens in a distant land? How can global journalists integrate their partial and impartial perspectives? How can journalists support global values while remaining impartial communicators?
Reforming media practices
The slow, complex, practical task of developing better media practices is no less imposing. Exhorting individual journalists to be ethical will be futile unless supported by an institutional climate that encourages global values in the newsroom. Aware of such difficulties, some journalists may accuse global journalism ethicists of being unrealistic in thinking that news organizations will provide the education, expertise and extra resources needed to achieve a high-quality cosmopolitan journalism.;board=5.0

Journalism & Mass Communication / Global Media Ethics
« on: March 10, 2015, 05:45:04 PM »
Global Media Ethics -Part 1

What is global media ethics?
Global media ethics aims at developing a comprehensive set of principles and standards for the practice of journalism in an age of global news media. New forms of communication are reshaping the practice of a once parochial craft serving a local, regional or national public. Today, news media use communication technology to gather text, video and images from around the world with unprecedented speed and varying degrees of editorial control. The same technology allows news media to disseminate this information to audiences scattered around the globe.
Despite these global trends, most codes of ethics contain standards for news organizations or associations in specific countries. International associations of journalists exist, and some have constructed declarations of principle. But no global code has been adopted by most major journalism associations and news organizations.
In addition to statements of principle, more work needs to be done on the equally important area of specific, practice guidelines for covering international events. An adequate global journalism ethics has yet to be constructed.
The global media debate
The idea of a global media ethics arises out a larger attempt change, improve or reform the global media system to eliminate inequalities ion media technology and to reduce the control of global media in the hands of minority of Western countries. This attempt to re-structure the media system have been controversial, often being accused of being motivated by an agenda to control media or inhibit a free press. The debate continues today.
Beginning in the 1970s, there was an attempt to establish a “New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO)” prompted by concerns that Western media and its values were threatening the cultural values in non-Western, developing nations. The main players in NWICO were non-aligned nations, UNESCO, and the Sean McBride Commission. The recommendations of the McBride report in 1980, One World, Many Voices, outlined a new global media order. The report was endorsed by UNESCO members. The USA and Great Britain left UNESCO in the early 1980s in opposition to NWICO.
The dream of a set of principles and policies for equitable and responsible dissemination of information worldwide has not died. More recently, the United Nations has held two meetings of a movement called “World Summit on the Information Society.” At a summit in Geneva in December 2003, 175 countries adopted a plan of action and a declaration of principles. A second summit was held in Tunisia in November 2005 which looked at ways to implement the Geneva principles. At the heart of the summits’ concerns was the growth of new online media and the “digital divide” between the Global North and South.
On the history of the NWICO debate, see Gerbner, G. & Mowlana, H. & Nordenstreng, K., eds., The Global Media Debate. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing, 1999.
The attempt to reform the global media system is much wider in scope than an attempt to construct a global media ethics. The former looks at what norms should guide media practitioners when they face difficult decisions on what to report. The latter goes beyond ethical reflections to include the economics, politics, and technology of media.
Why a global ethics?
There are at least two reasons:
(1) Practical: a non-global ethic is no longer able to adequately address the new problems that face global journalism, and
(2) Ethical: new global responsibilities come with global impact and reach.
News media now inhabit a radically pluralistic, global community where the impact of their reports can have far-reaching effects — good or bad. News reports, via satellite or the Internet, reach people around the world and influence the actions of governments, militaries, humanitarian agencies and warring ethnic groups. A responsible global ethic is needed in a world where news media bring together a plurality of different religions, traditions and ethnic groups.
One responsibility is to report issues and events in a way that reflects this global plurality of views; to practice a journalism that helps different groups understand each other better. Reports should be accurate, balanced and diverse, as judged from an international perspective. A biased and parochial journalism can wreak havoc in a tightly linked global world. Unless reported properly, North American readers may fail to understand the causes of violence in Middle East, or a famine in Africa. Biased reports may incite ethnic groups in a region to attack each other. A narrow-minded, patriotic news media can stampede populations into war. Moreover, journalism with a global perspective is needed to help citizens understand the daunting global problems of poverty, environmental degradation, technological inequalities and political instability.
For a systematic study of global media (and journalism) ethics, see Stephen J. A. Ward,Global Journalism Ethics (in bibliography below).
New stage in journalism ethics
Since the birth of modern journalism in the 17th century, journalism has gradually broaden the scope of the people that it claims to serve — from factions to specific social classes to the public of nations. The journalistic principle of “serving the public interest” has been understood, tacitly or explicitly, as serving one’s own public, social class or nation. The other principles of objectivity, impartiality and editorial independence were limited by this parochial understanding of who journalism serves. For example, “impartiality” meant being impartial in one’s coverage of rival groups within one’s society, but not necessarily being impartial to groups outside one’s national boundaries.

Part -6

The Global Media and Imperialism
The relationship of the global media system to the question of imperialism is complex. In the 1970s, much of the Third World mobilized through UNESCO to battle the cultural imperialism of the Western powers. The Third World nations developed plans for a New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) to address their concerns that Western domination over journalism and culture made it virtually impossible for newly independent nations to escape colonial status. Similar concerns about U.S. media domination were heard across Europe. The NWICO campaign was part of a broader struggle at that time by Third World nations to address formally the global economic inequality that was seen as a legacy of imperialism. Both of these movements were impaled on the sword of neoliberalism wielded by the United States and Britain.
Global journalism is dominated by Western news services, which regard existing capitalism, the United States, its allies, and their motives in the most charitable manner imaginable. As for culture, the “Hollywood juggernaut” and the specter of U.S. cultural domination remain a central concern in many countries, for obvious reasons. Exports of U.S. films and TV shows increased by 22 percent in 1999, and the list of the top 125 grossing films for 1999 is made up almost entirely of Hollywood fare. When one goes nation by nation, even a “cultural nationalist” country like France had nine of its top ten grossing films in 1999 produced by the Hollywood giants. “Many leftist intellectuals in Paris are decrying American films, but the French people are eating them up,” a Hollywood producer noted. Likewise, in Italy, the replacement of single-screen theaters by “multiplexes” has contributed to a dramatic decline in local film box office. The moral of the story for many European filmmakers is that you have to work in English and employ Hollywood moviemaking conventions to succeed. In Latin America, cable television is overwhelmed by the channels of the media giants, and the de facto capital for the region is Miami.
But, with the changing global political economy, there are problems with leaving the discussion at this point. The notion that corporate media firms are merely purveyors of U.S. culture is ever less plausible as the media system becomes increasingly concentrated, commercialized and globalized. As I note above, the global media giants are the quintessential multinational firms, with shareholders, headquarters, and operations scattered across the globe. The global media system is better understood as one that advances corporate and commercial interests and values and denigrates or ignores that which cannot be incorporated into its mission. There is no discernible difference in the firms’ content, whether they are owned by shareholders in Japan or France or have corporate headquarters in New York, Germany, or Sydney. In this sense, the basic split is not between nation-states, but between the rich and the poor, across national borders.
As the media conglomerates spread their tentacles, there is reason to believe they will encourage popular tastes to become more uniform in at least some forms of media. Based on conversations with Hollywood executives, Variety editor Peter Bart concluded that “the world filmgoing audience is fast becoming more homogeneous.” Whereas action movies had once been the only sure-fire global fare—and comedies had been considerably more difficult to export—by the late nineties comedies like My Best Friend’s Wedding and The Full Monty were doing between $160 million and $200 million in non-U.S. box-office sales.
When audiences appear to prefer locally made fare, the global media corporations, rather than flee in despair, globalize their production. Sony has been at the forefront of this, producing films with local companies in China, France, India, and Mexico, to name but a few. India’s acclaimed domestic film industry—“Bollywood”—is also developing close ties to the global media giants. This process is even more visible in the music industry. Music has always been the least capital-intensive of the electronic media and therefore the most open to experimentation and new ideas. U.S. recording artists generated 60 percent of their sales outside the U.S. in 1993; by 1998 that figure was down to 40 percent. Rather than fold their tents, however, the four media multinationals that dominate the world’s recorded-music market are busy establishing local subsidiaries in places like Brazil, where “people are totally committed to local music,” in the words of a writer for a trade publication. Sony, again, has led the way in establishing distribution deals with independent music companies from around the world.
But it would be a mistake to buy into the notion that the global media system makes nation-state boundaries and geopolitical empire irrelevant. A large portion of contemporary capitalist activity, clearly a majority of investment and employment, operates primarily within national confines, and their nation-states play a key role in representing these interests. The entire global regime is the result of neoliberal political policies, urged on by the U.S. government. Most important, not far below the surface is the role of the U.S. military as the global enforcer of capitalism, with U.S. based corporations and investors in the driver’s seat. Recall the approving words of Thomas Friedman: “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-l5. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.” In short, we need to develop an understanding of neoliberal globalization that is joined at the hip to U.S. militarism—and all the dreadful implications that that suggests—rather than one that is in opposition to it.
This core relationship between the U.S. military and the global neoliberal project, one of the central political issues of our times, also is virtually unknown to the journalism of AOL-Time Warner’s CNN and the other corporate media giants, who increasingly are the providers of substantive news concerning international politics. The very notion of imperialism has been dismissed as a historical artifact or a rhetorical ploy of desperate opportunists and the feeble-minded. In view of the corporate media’s interdependence with the global neoliberal regime, any other outcome would be remarkable.
It would be all too easy, given the above conditions, to succumb to despair or simply acquiesce to changes from which there seems no escape. Matters appear quite depressing from a democratic standpoint, and it may be difficult to see much hope for change. As one Swedish journalist noted in 1997, “Unfortunately, the trends are very clear, moving in the wrong direction on virtually every score, and there is a desperate lack of public discussion of the long-term implications of current developments for democracy and accountability.” But the global system is highly unstable. As lucrative as neoliberalism has been for the rich, it has been a disaster for the world’s poor and working classes. Latin America, a champion of market reforms since the eighties, has seen what a World Bank official terms a “big increase in inequality.” The number of people worldwide living on less than $1 per day increased from 1.2 billion in 1987 to 1.5 billion in 2000, and looks to continue to rise for years to come. The “me first, screw you” ethos promoted by neoliberalism has contributed to widespread governmental corruption, as notions of principled public service are difficult to maintain. The stability of the entire global economy looks increasingly fragile. While the dominance of commercial media makes resistance more difficult, widespread opposition to these trends has begun to emerge in the form of huge demonstrations across the planet, including the United States. It seems that the depoliticization fostered by neoliberalism and commercial media is bumping up against the harsh reality of exploitation, inequality, and the bankruptcy of capitalist politics and culture experienced by significant parts of the population. Just as all organized resistance to capitalism appeared to be stomped out it now threatens to rise again from the very ground.
This leads to my final point. What is striking is that progressive anti-neoliberal political movements around the world are increasingly making media issues part of their political platforms. From Sweden, France, and India, to Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, democratic left political parties are giving structural media reform—e.g. breaking up the big companies, recharging nonprofit and noncommercial broadcasting, creating a sector of nonprofit and noncommercial independent media under popular control—a larger role in their platforms. They are finding out that this is a successful issue with the broad population. Other activists are putting considerable emphasis upon developing independent and so-called “pirate” media to counteract the corporate system. Across the board on the anti-neoliberal and socialist left there is a recognition that the issue of media has grown dramatically in importance, and no successful social movement can dismiss this as a matter that can be addressed “after the revolution.” Organizing for democratic media must be part of the current struggle, if we are going to have a viable chance of success.


Finally, a word should be said about the Internet, the two-ton gorilla of global media and communication. The Internet is increasingly becoming a part of our media and telecommunication systems, and a genuine technological convergence is taking place. Accordingly, there has been a wave of mergers between traditional media and telecom firms, and by each of these with Internet and computer firms. Already companies like Microsoft, AOL, AT&T and Telefonica have become media players in their own right. It is possible that the global media system is in the process of converging with the telecommunications and computer industries to form an integrated global communication system, where anywhere from six to a dozen supercompanies will rule the roost. The notion that the Internet would “set us free,” and permit anyone to communicate effectively, hence undermining the monopoly power of the corporate media giants, has not transpired. Although the Internet offers extraordinary promise in many regards, it alone cannot slay the power of the media giants. Indeed, no commercially viable media content site has been launched on the Internet, and it would be difficult to find an investor willing to bankroll any additional attempts. To the extent the Internet becomes part of the commercially viable media system, it looks to be under the thumb of the usual corporate suspects.
In the introduction I alluded to the importance of the global media system to the formation and expansion of global and regional markets for goods and services, often sold by the largest multinational corporations. The emerging global media system also has significant cultural and political implications, specifically with regard to political democracy, imperialism, and the nature of socialist resistance in the coming years. In the balance of this review I will outline a few comments on these issues.
In the area of democracy, the emergence of a such a highly concentrated media system in the hands of huge private concerns violates in a fundamental manner any notion of a free press in democratic theory. The problems of having wealthy private owners dominate the journalism and media in a society have been well understood all along: journalism, in particular, which is the oxygen necessary for self-government to be viable, will be controlled by those who benefit by existing inequality and the preservation of the status quo.
The two traditional recourses to protect democratic values in media—neither of which is the “answer” by any means—no longer apply. First, marketplace competition is of the oligopolistic variety, and even there it is quite weak by comparative or historical standards. It is virtually unthinkable for a citizen, even a wealthy capitalist, to launch a commercially viable company that can go toe-to-toe with the media giants. The market is effectively closed off to outsiders. And even a more competitive marketplace has clear limitations for generating democratic media. Second, the traditional means the commercial media system has provided to account for the lack of competition has been the idea that its journalism would be subject to the control of trained professional journalists who would be neutral and nonpartisan. This was always a flawed construct, because power remains in the hands of the owners, and what little professional prerogative existed to go against the political and commercial interests of owners has diminished in the past decade. This process was documented in MR in the November 2000 “Review of the Month.”
The attack on the professional autonomy of journalism that has taken place is simply a broader part of the neoliberal transformation of media and communication. All public service values and institutions that interfere with profit maximization are on the chopping block. In media, this has been seen most dramatically in the fall from grace of public service broadcasting in much of the world. It is only because of the tremendous goodwill these services have built up over the years that they survive, because they go directly counter to the neoliberal logic that states profits should rule wherever they can be generated. The EU is in the position of condemning some of the traditional subsidies to public service broadcasters as “noncompetitive,” as it is now assumed that broadcasting is first and foremost the province of capitalists. Public service broadcasting, once the media centerpiece of European social democracy, is now on the defensive and increasingly reduced to locating a semi-commercial niche in the global system. The pathetic and toothless U.S. system of public broadcasting—a quasi-commercial low budget operation aimed at a sliver of the upper-middle class—is the model for public broadcasting under neoliberal auspices.
Neoliberalism is more than an economic theory, however. It is also a political theory. It posits that business domination of society proceeds most effectively when there is a representative democracy, but only when it is a weak and ineffectual polity typified by high degrees of depoliticization, especially among the poor and working class. It is here that one can see why the existing commercial media system is so important to the neoliberal project, for it is singularly brilliant at generating the precise sort of bogus political culture that permits business domination to proceed without using a police state or facing effective popular resistance.
This argument may seem to contradict the fairly common view of those who assert global conglomerates can at times have a progressive impact on culture, especially when they enter nations that had been tightly controlled by corrupt crony media systems (as in much of Latin America) or nations that had significant state censorship over media (as in parts of Asia). In fact, the global commercial media system is radically bourgeois in that it respects, on balance, no tradition or custom if it stands in the way of profits. But ultimately, once capitalist relations have become preeminent, the global corporate media system is politically conservative, because the media giants are significant beneficiaries of the current social structure around the world, and any upheaval in property or social relations—particularly to the extent that it reduces the power of business—is not in their interest.
Sometimes the bias is explicit, and corporate overlords like Rupert Murdoch simply impose their neoliberal political positions on their underlings. More often, however, the bias is subtle and is due purely to commercial concerns. With concentration comes hypercommercialism, as media firms have more ability to extract profit from their activities; this generates an implicit political bias in media content. Consumerism, class inequality and so-called “individualism” tend to be taken as natural and even benevolent, whereas political activity, civic values, and antimarket activities are marginalized. The best journalism is pitched to the business class and suited to its needs and prejudices; with a few notable exceptions, the journalism reserved for the masses tends to be the sort of drivel provided by the media giants on their U.S. television stations. In India, for example, influenced by the global media giants, “the revamped news media…now focus more on fashion designers and beauty queens than on the dark realities of a poor and violent country.” This slant is often quite subtle. Indeed, the genius of the commercial-media system is the general lack of overt censorship. As George Orwell noted in his unpublished introduction to Animal Farm, censorship in free societies is infinitely more sophisticated and thorough than in dictatorships, because “unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without any need for an official ban.”
Lacking any necessarily conspiratorial intent and acting in their own bottom line interest, media conglomerates gradually weed out public sphere substance in favor of light entertainment. In the words of the late Emilio Azcarraga, the billionaire founder of Mexico’s Televisa: “Mexico is a country of a modest, very ed class, which will never stop being ed. Television has the obligation to bring diversion to these people and remove them from their sad reality and difficult future.” The combination of neoliberalism and corporate media culture tends to promote a deep and profound depoliticization. One need only look at the United States to see the logical endpoint.

Part - 4

This second tier has also crystallized rather quickly; across the globe there has been a shakeout in national and regional media markets, with small firms getting eaten by medium firms and medium firms being swallowed by big firms. Compared with ten or twenty years ago, a much smaller number of much larger firms now dominate the media at a national and regional level. In Britain, for example, one of the few remaining independent book publishers, Fourth Estate, was sold to Murdoch’s HarperCollins in 2000. A wave of mergers has left German television—the second largest TV market in the world—the private realm of Bertelsmann and Kirch. Indeed, several mergers have left all of European terrestrial television dominated by five firms, three of which rank in the global first tier. The situation may be most stark in New Zealand, where the newspaper industry is largely the province of the Australian-American Rupert Murdoch and the Irishman Tony O’Reilly, who also dominates New Zealand’s commercial radio broadcasting and has major stakes in magazine publishing. Murdoch also controls pay television. In short, the rulers of New Zealand’s media system could squeeze into a closet.
Second-tier corporations, like those in the first-tier, need to reach beyond national borders. “The borders are gone. We have to grow,” the Chairman of CanWest Global Communication stated in 2000. “We don’t intend to be one of the corpses lying beside the information highway.…We have to be Columbia or Warner Brothers one day.” The CEO of Bonnier, Sweden’s largest media conglomerate says that to survive, “we want to be the leading media company in Northern Europe.” Australian media moguls, following the path blazed by Murdoch, have the mantra “Expand or die.” As one puts it, “You really can’t continue to grow as an Australian supplier in Australia.” Mediaset, the Berlusconi-owned Italian TV power, is angling to expand into the rest of Europe and Latin America. Perhaps the most striking example of second-tier globalization is Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst, the U.S. radio/publishing/TV/billboard/movie theater power that has been constructed almost overnight. Between 1998 and 2000 it spent well over $2 billion purchasing media assets in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela.
Second-tier media firms are hardly “oppositional” to the global system. This is true as well in developing countries. Mexico’s Televisa, Brazil’s Globo, Argentina’s Clarin, and Venezuela’s Cisneros Group, for example, are among the world’s sixty or seventy largest media corporations. These firms tend to dominate their own national and regional media markets, which have been experiencing rapid consolidation as well. They generate much of their revenue from multinational corporate advertising. Moreover, they have extensive ties and joint ventures with the largest media multinationals, as well as with Wall Street investment banks. In Latin America, for example, the second-tier firms work closely with the U.S. giants, who are carving up the commercial media pie among themselves. What Televisia or Globo can offer News Corporation, for example, is local domination of the politicians and the impression of local control over their joint ventures. And like second-tier media firms elsewhere, they are also establishing global operations, especially in nations that speak the same language. As a result, the second-tier media firms in the developing nations tend to have distinctly pro-business political agendas and to support expansion of the global media market, which puts them at odds with large segments of the population in their home countries.
Together, the seventy or eighty first- and second-tier giants control much of the world’s media: book, magazine, and newspaper publishing; music recording; TV production; TV stations and cable channels; satellite TV systems; film production; and motion picture theaters. But the system is still very much evolving. The end result of all this activity by second-tier media firms may well be the eventual creation of one or two more giants, and it almost certainly means the number of viable media players in the system will continue to plummet. Some new second-tier firms are emerging, especially in lucrative Asian markets, and there will probably be further upheaval among the ranks of the first-tier media giants. And corporations get no guarantee of success merely by going global. The point is that they have no choice in the matter. Some, perhaps many, will falter as they accrue too much debt or as they enter unprofitable ventures or as they face intensified competition. But the chances are that we are closer to the end of the process of establishing a stable global media market than to the beginning. And as it takes shape, there is a distinct likelihood that the leading media firms in the world will find themselves in a very profitable position. That is what they are racing to secure.
The global media system is only partially competitive in any meaningful economic sense of the term. Many of the largest media firms have some of the same major shareholders, own pieces of one another or have interlocking boards of directors. When Variety compiled its list of the fifty largest global media firms for 1997, it observed that “merger mania” and cross-ownership had “resulted in a complex web of interrelationships” that will “make you dizzy.” The global market strongly encourages corporations to establish equity joint ventures in which two or more media giants share ownership of an enterprise. This way, firms reduce competition and risk and increase the chance of profitability. As the CEO of Sogecable, Spain’s largest media firm and one of the twelve largest private media companies in Europe, expressed it to Variety, the strategy is “not to compete with international companies but to join them.” In some respects, the global media market more closely resembles a cartel than it does the competitive marketplace found in economics textbooks.
This point cannot be overemphasized. In competitive markets, in theory, numerous producers work their tails off largely oblivious to each other as they sell what they produce at the market price, over which they have no control. At a certain level, it is true these firms compete vigorously in an oligopolistic manner. But they all struggle to minimize the effects of competition. Today’s media firms are what Joseph Schumpeter called “corespective” competitors typical of situations with high levels of monopolization rather than classical competitors in an anonymous dog-eat-dog world as assumed in much of economic theory. The leading CEOs are all on a first name basis and they regularly converse. Even those on unfriendly terms, like Murdoch and AOL-Time Warner’s Ted Turner, understand they have to work together for the “greater good.” “Sometimes you have to grit your teeth and treat your enemy as your friend,” the former president of Universal, Frank Biondi, concedes. As the head of Venezuela’s huge Cisneros group, which is locked in combat over Latin American satellite TV with News Corporation, explains about Murdoch, “We’re friends. We’re always talking.” Moreover, all the first and second tier media firms are connected through their reliance upon a few investment banks like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs that quarterback most of the huge media mergers. Those two banks alone put together fifty-two media and telecom deals valued at $450 billion in the first quarter of 2000, and 138 deals worth $433 billion in all of 1999.
This conscious coordination does not simply affect economic behavior; it makes the media giants particularly effective political lobbyists at the national, regional, and global levels. The global media system is not the result of “free markets” or natural law; it is the consequence of a number of important state policies that have been made that created the system. The media giants have had a heavy hand in drafting these laws and regulations, and the public tends to have little or no input. In the United States, the corporate media lobbies are notorious for their ability to get their way with politicians, especially if their adversary is not another powerful corporate sector, but that amorphous entity called the “public interest.” In 2000, for example, the corporate media giants led the lobbying effort to open up trade with China, and fought against those who raised concerns about free speech and free press. Everywhere in the world it is the same, and the corporate media have the additional advantage of controlling the very news media that would be the place citizens would expect to find criticism and discussion of media policy in a free society. The track record is that the corporate media use their domination of the news media in a self-serving way, hence cementing their political leverage.

Part -3

The development of the global media system has not been unopposed. While media conglomerates press for policies to facilitate their domination of markets throughout the world, strong traditions of protection for domestic media and cultural industries persist. Nations ranging from Norway, Denmark, and Spain to Mexico, South Africa, and South Korea keep their small domestic film production industries alive with government subsidies. In the summer of 1998, culture ministers from twenty nations, including Brazil, Mexico, Sweden, Italy and Ivory Coast, met in Ottawa to discuss how they could “build some ground rules” to protect their cultural fare from “the Hollywood juggernaut.” Their main recommendation was to keep culture out of the control of the WTO. A similar 1998 gathering, sponsored by the United Nations in Stockholm, recommended that culture be granted special exemptions in global trade deals. Nevertheless, the trend is clearly in the direction of opening markets.
Proponents of neoliberalism in every country argue that cultural trade barriers and regulations harm consumers, and that subsidies inhibit the ability of nations to develop their own competitive media firms. There are often strong commercial media lobbies within nations that perceive they have more to gain by opening up their borders than by maintaining trade barriers. In 1998, for example, when the British government proposed a voluntary levy on film theater revenues (mostly Hollywood films) to benefit the British commercial film industry, British broadcasters, not wishing to antagonize the firms who supply their programming, lobbied against the measure until it died.
If the WTO is explicitly a pro-commercial organization, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the global regulatory body for telecommunications, has only become one after a long march from its traditional commitment to public service values. The European Commission(EC), the executive arm of the European Union (EU), also, finds itself in the middle of what controversy exists concerning media policy, and it has considerably more power than the ITU. On the one hand, the EC is committed to building powerful pan-European media giants that can go toe-to-toe with the U.S. based giants. On the other hand, it is committed to maintaining some semblance of competitive markets, so it occasionally rejects proposed media mergers as being anti-competitive. Yet, as a quasi-democratic institution, the EU is subject to some popular pressure that is unsympathetic to commercial interests. As Sweden assumed the rotating chair of the EU in 2001, the Swedes began pushing to have their domestic ban on TV advertising to children made into the law for all EU nations. If this occurs it will be the most radical attempt yet to limit the prerogatives of the corporate media giants that dominate commercial children’s television.
Perhaps the best way to understand how closely the global commercial media system is linked to the neoliberal global capitalist economy is to consider the role of advertising. Advertising is a business expense incurred by the largest firms in the economy. The commercial media system is the necessary transmission belt for businesses to market their wares across the world; indeed globalization as we know it could not exist without it. A whopping three-quarters of global spending on advertising ends up in the pockets of a mere twenty media companies. Ad spending has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade, as TV has been opened to commercial exploitation, and is growing at more than twice the rate of GDP growth. Latin American ad spending, for example, is expected to increase by nearly 8 percent in both 2000 and 2001. The coordinators of this $350 billion industry are five or six super-ad agency owning companies that have emerged in the past decade to dominate totally the global trade. The consolidation in the global advertising industry is just as pronounced as that in global media, and the two are related. “Mega-agencies are in a wonderful position to handle the business of megaclients,” one ad executive notes. It is “absolutely necessary…for agencies to consolidate. Big is the mantra. So big it must be,” another executive stated.
There are a few other points to make to put the global media system in proper perspective. The global media market is rounded out by a second tier of six or seven dozen firms that are national or regional powerhouses, or that control niche markets, like business or trade publishing. Between one-third and one-half of these second-tier firms come from North America; most of the rest are from Western Europe and Japan. Many national and regional conglomerates have been established on the backs of publishing or television empires. Each of these second-tier firms is a giant in its own right, often ranking among the thousand largest companies in the world and doing more than one billion dollars per year in business. The roster of second-tier media firms from North America includes Tribune Company, Dow Jones, Gannett, Knight-Ridder, Hearst, and Advance Publications, and among those from Europe are the Kirch Group, Mediaset, Prisa, Pearson, Reuters, and Reed Elsevier. The Japanese companies, aside from Sony, remain almost exclusively domestic producers.

Part -2
The Global Media System
Prior to the eighties and nineties, national media systems were typified by domestically owned radio, television and newspaper industries. There were major import markets for films, TV shows, music and books, and these markets tended to be dominated by U.S. based firms. But local commercial interests, sometimes combined with a state-affiliated broadcasting service, predominated within the media system. All of this is changing, and changing rapidly. Whereas previously media systems were primarily national, in the past few years a global commercial-media market has emerged. To grasp media today and in the future, one must start with understanding the global system and then factor in differences at the national and local levels. “What you are seeing,” says Christopher Dixon, media analyst for the investment firm PaineWebber, “is the creation of a global oligopoly. It happened to the oil and automotive industries earlier this century; now it is happening to the entertainment industry.”
This global oligopoly has two distinct but related facets. First, it means the dominant firms—nearly all U.S. based—are moving across the planet at breakneck speed. The point is to capitalize on the potential for growth abroad—and not get outflanked by competitors—since the U.S. market is well developed and only permits incremental expansion. As Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone has put it, “Companies are focusing on those markets promising the best return, which means overseas.” Frank Biondi, former chairman of Vivendi’s Universal Studios, asserts that “99 percent of the success of these companies long-term is going to be successful execution offshore.”
The dominant media firms increasingly view themselves as global entities. Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Middelhoff bristled when, in 1998, some said it was improper for a German firm to control 15 percent of both the U.S. book-publishing and music markets. “We’re not foreign. We’re international,” Middelhoff said. “I’m an American with a German passport.” In 2000 Middelhoff proclaimed that Bertelsmann was no longer a German company. “We are really the most global media company.” Likewise, AOL-Time Warner’s Gerald Levin stated, “We do not want to be viewed as an American company. We think globally.”
Second, convergence and consolidation are the order of the day. Specific media industries are becoming more and more concentrated, and the dominant players in each media industry increasingly are subsidiaries of huge global media conglomerates. For one small example, the U.S. market for educational publishing is now controlled by four firms, whereas it had two dozen viable players as recently as 1980. The level of mergers and acquisitions is breathtaking. In the first half of 2000, the volume of merger deals in global media, Internet, and telecommunications totaled $300 billion, triple the figure for the first six months of 1999, and exponentially higher than the figure from ten years earlier. The logic guiding media firms in all of this is clear: get very big very quickly, or get swallowed up by someone else. This is similar to trends taking place in many other industries. “There will be less than a handful of end-game winners,” the CEO of Chase Manhattan announced in September 2000. “We want to be an end-game winner.”
But in few industries has the level of concentration been as stunning as in media. In short order, the global media market has come to be dominated by seven multinational corporations: Disney, AOL-Time Warner, Sony, News Corporation, Viacom, Vivendi, and Bertelsmann. None of these companies existed in their present form as media companies as recently as fifteen years ago; today nearly all of them will rank among the largest 300 non-financial firms in the world for 2001. Of the seven, only three are truly U.S. firms, though all of them have core operations there. Between them, these seven companies own the major U.S. film studios; all but one of the U.S. television networks; the few companies that control 80-85 percent of the global music market; the preponderance of satellite broadcasting worldwide; a significant percentage of book publishing and commercial magazine publishing; all or part of most of the commercial cable TV channels in the U.S. and worldwide; a significant portion of European terrestrial(traditional over-the-air) television; and on and on and on.
By nearly all accounts, the level of concentration is only going to increase in the near future. “I’m a great believer that we are going to a world of vertically integrated companies where only the big survive,” said Gordon Crawford, an executive of Capital Research & Management, a mutual fund that is among the largest shareholders in many of the seven firms listed above. For firms to survive, Business Week observes, speed is of the essence: “Time is short.” “In a world moving to five, six, seven media companies, you don’t want to be in a position where you have to count on others,” Peter Chernin, the president of News Corporation states. “You need to have enough marketplace dominance that people are forced to deal with you.” Chernin elaborates: “There are great arguments about whether content is king or distribution is king. At the end of the day, scale is king. If you can spread your costs over a large base, you can outbid your competitors for programming and other assets you want to buy.” By 2000, massive cross-border deals—like Pearson merging its TV operations with CLT (Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion) and Bertelsmann, or Vivendi purchasing Universal—were increasing in prominence.
Chernin’s firm, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, may be the most aggressive global trailblazer, although cases could be made for Sony, Bertelsmann, or AOL-Time Warner. Murdoch has satellite TV services that run from Asia to Europe to Latin America. His Star TV dominates in Asia with thirty channels in seven languages. News Corporation’s TV service for China, Phoenix TV, in which it has a 45 percent stake, now reaches forty-five million homes there and has had an 80 percent increase in advertising revenues in the past year. And this barely begins to describe News Corporation’s entire portfolio of assets: Twentieth Century Fox films, Fox TV network, HarperCollins publishers, TV stations, cable TV channels, magazines, over 130 newspapers, and professional sport teams.
Why has this taken place? The conventional explanation is technology; i.e. radical improvements in communication technology make global media empires feasible and lucrative in a manner unthinkable in the past. This is similar to the technological explanation for globalization writ large. But this is only a partial explanation, at best. The real motor force has been the incessant pursuit for profit that marks capitalism, which has applied pressure for a shift to neoliberal deregulation. In media this means the relaxation or elimination of barriers to commercial exploitation of media and to concentrated media ownership. There is nothing inherent in the technology that required neoliberalism; new digital communication could have been used, for example, to simply enhance public service media had a society elected to do so. With neoliberal values, however, television, which had been a noncommercial preserve in many nations, suddenly became subject to transnational commercial development. It has been at the center of the emerging global media system.
Once the national deregulation of media began in major nations like the United States and Britain, it was followed by global measures like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), all designed to clear the ground for investment and sales by multinational corporations in regional and global markets. This has laid the foundation for the creation of the global media system, dominated by the afore-mentioned conglomerates. Now in place, the system has its own logic. Firms must become larger and diversified to reduce risk and enhance profit-making opportunities, and they must straddle the globe so as to never be outflanked by competitors. This is a market that some anticipate having trillions of dollars in annual revenues within a decade. If that is to be the case, those companies that sit atop the field may someday rank among the two or three dozen largest in the world.

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