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Foreign News on Television

Where in the World Is the Global Village?

Edited By Akiba Cohen

Spanning several years of research, this book compares and contrasts how public and commercial TV stations present foreign, domestic, and hybrid news from a number of different countries. It examines what viewers of television news think about foreign news, their interest in it, and what sense they make of it. The book also assesses what the gatekeepers of foreign news – journalists, producers, and editors – think about what they produce, and about their viewers.
This book shows that while globalization is a dominant force in society, and though news can be instantaneously broadcast internationally, there is relatively little commonality throughout the world in the depiction of events occurring in other countries. Thus, contrary to McLuhan’s famous but untested notion of the «global village», television news in the countries discussed in this book actually presents more variability than similarity.
The research gathered here is based on a quantitative content analysis of over 17,000 news items and analysis of over 10,000 survey respondents. Seventeen countries are included in this research, offering a rich comparative perspective on the topic.
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7 Foreign News on Public and Commercial Stations Joseph M. Chan & Francis L.F. Lee




In an article outlining the ideal media system for a democratic society, Curran (2000) envisions a model in which public service television constitutes the core of the media system, complemented by a professional sector, a civic sector, a social market sector, and a private enterprise (that is, commercial) sector. The model, in other words, involves the co-presence of commercial and public broadcasting. Public service television should be the core because, governed by the norms of fairness and equal access, it remains “the best way of establishing an open public forum” (p. 143). Commercial broadcasters, on the other hand, can “make the media system as a whole more responsive to popular pleasures” (p. 146).

Many contemporary societies are indeed marked by a mixed or dual broadcasting system in which public and private broadcasters co-exist. This situation was created mainly through a wave of “deregulation” in the broadcasting arena, especially in European countries, in the 1980s and 1990s (Holtz-Bacha & Norris, 2001). However, it does not mean that Curran’s vision is achieved. His model resides on two interrelated presumptions that may deviate from reality. First, the value of having both public and commercial broadcasters can be realized only if the two retain their respective characteristics. Especially important is for the public broadcaster to remain true to its mission of providing people with what they need instead of merely what they want. Second, the rise of...

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