What is Media Imperialism?

Article Details
  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 March 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
The sperm count for men in North America, Europe, and Australia has declined by more than 50% since the 1970s.  more...

April 5 ,  1969 :  Massive antiwar demonstrations took place across the US.  more...

Media imperialism is a theory that suggests that smaller countries are losing their identity due to the dominance of media from larger nations. It can be equated to small community shops closing down due to large superstores moving in, taking over, and having a monopoly. As the larger media corporations begin to take over, smaller media companies are either being forced out or swallowed up. When the majority of media available in one country is that produced by a different, more dominant nation, it is suggested that the culture of that larger nation, along with its interests, displace that of the home country.

Many critics argue that there is too much media coverage of the events in a limited number of large nations as opposed to the rest of the world. This coverage may be affected by the dominance of media companies in these larger countries, which have the ability to control the content and amount of coverage on a particular issue. Critics suggest that this dominance has led to important events getting little attention, and biased information and inaccuracy within news stories.

Media imperialism is not just seen internationally. When a small number of companies are responsible for large amounts of media output, this too may be considered imperialism. Countries including Canada and Italy are often accused of having imperialist media, since a large amount of the media in these two countries is controlled by just one company in each.


The problem with just one company or owner controlling the media is that media output can be biased. The owner can decide on what information is shown, as well as what to censor. This can sometimes come down to an influence from the country's government, which may have the power to shut down the company if it does not follow the government's wishes. Other times, powerful corporate interests can influence the media, either through their influence with the government or their role as advertisers.

Advertisers use media companies to promote their goods, but in some cases can also lay down stipulations on the content produced. If a media organization earns a significant part of its revenue through advertising channels, these advertisers can have an undue influence on what is shown. In such cases, the content of the broadcasting is down to its profits; if programming does not bring in profits, it is unlikely to survive for long.

In the United Kingdom, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) operates its own form of media imperialism. The BBC has an annual television license that all television owners must purchase, regardless of whether those owners watch the BBC or not. The company was created by Royal Charter, but operates independently from the government.

The BBC's television license fee has caused much controversy over the years, and failure to pay for a license can result in a fine. There are a number of channels available to watch on British television, but only the BBC has the right to charge for theirs. It is not strictly thought of as imperialism, as the content of the BBC is mainly British, though some may argue that it may not represent the multiculturalism present in the country.

Especially as new technology allows more people from around the world to make their voices heard, there are an increasing number of critics who argue that media imperialism is not the threat it once might have been. Access to social media tools has allowed groups who might have been censored in the past to make their stories more widely known. Even older technologies, such as radio, can be very effective tools to allow a greater diversity of voices in the media landscape. Some critics even argue that, rather than passively accepting the cultural values that foreign media might impose on a smaller nation, people in those nations often pick and choose the aspects of that media that reenforces local values.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 11

I think Psy's gangnam style phenomenon can be called a kind of counterflow. I mean, it's the example of reaction to western domination around the world.

Gangnam style has been success in countering the global domination of western products because it's friendly, easy to listen to (cultural counterflow).

It's counterflow, just like what Al-Jazeera did a few years ago (media counterflow).

Post 10

What is the solution to media imperialism? How do we make it better?

Is it something on the internet? Citizen journalism and social media?

Or do we just have to accept that this is the way things are now? Conglomerates usually don't get smaller.

Post 9
@BAU79 - I guess you have some points. But what about that song Gangam Style by Psy, the Korean rapper/singer? That is an example of culture that comes from the east, and is very deeply Asian, getting popular in the west. Granted, this is not usually the direction of the flow, but it can happen.
Post 8

I have never heard of the term media imperialism but I am familiar with the phenomenon that it refers to and I believe in it deeply. Not that it is a positive thing mind you, just that it exists and is getting worse all the time.

America's greatest export is culture. The world has slowly remade itself in our image over the last century and now we have an influence over people in every corner of the world. It is sad really. A whole globe worth of culture reduced down to film franchises, cheeseburgers, blue jeans and rock bands.

Post 6

It's a well researched article.

Post 4

I agree. Sometimes we see the cultural products just as the way they are, not really concerned with imperialism. But they may vary our way of thinking.

It's just so random.

Post 2

I think Hollywood movies don't have very much influence on Japan. Maybe in the past, Hollywood movies are one of the few ways to know how American people are living, but now there are so many media that show it.

If Japanese people are influenced by the US, it's by other ways than movies.

As for me, I see more American movies than Japanese, but am not very influenced by them. I see them just as entertainment. Tatsuya

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?