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Cultural Difference in Television Programs

Foreign Television Programs in China

Zhuo Feng

What kinds of foreign television programs are broadcast in China? What types of cultural differences exist in the minds of Chinese television viewers? To what extent can they perceive and accept these differences? The author developed a three-stage empirical approach to examine these questions in five sample cities in China. First, the television schedules of 37 television channels were analyzed in order to determine the type, cultural modification, and export country of foreign programs. Second, based on 36 audience interviews 42 cultural dimensions were explored and summarized in a catalogue. Third, a survey was conducted among 450 viewers, which examined their perception and acceptance of cultural difference. Five viewer types were developed through cluster analysis. The impact of influential factors was examined.


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Part A: Introduction


1 Introduction 1.1 Cultural Difference in Television Programs by Globalization Media globalization refers to the organization, distribution and consumption of media products in the global market, particularly movies, television programs and music products. (Devereux, 2007, p. 44) Based on the recognition of the ad- vantages of scale, media corporations target the shared habits and tastes of par- ticular audience segments at global level, rather than different audience seg- ments at national level on the basis of geographical proximity. (Corner, 1991, p. 28; Morley & Robins, 1997, p. 112; Keane, 2007, p. 24) Although audience segments at global level have shared habits and tastes, cultural differences still provide crucial barriers to the globalization of television programs. (Morley & Robins, 1997, p. 1) On the one hand, television programs, which are produced for global mar- ket, must be based on “universal principles” to achieve largest number of audi- ences. (Morley & Robins, 1997, p. 11) These universal programs create a new global cultural space and a borderless world in which the link between culture and territory becomes blurred. Audiences transcend cultural difference between societies and understand each other mutually. (Morley & Robins, 1997, p. 112) Thus, there is a belief in world cultural convergence, in other words, a “shared culture” and a common “world awareness” among audience segments across the world. (Corner, 1991, p. 28) On the other hand, although efforts are made to transcend cultural difference in the production of universal television programs, it is not possible to eradicate it. Despite on-the-surface similarities, real differences...

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