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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 E: Conclusions

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18 Conclusions 18.1 Summary • Theoretical framework Culture is a complex whole which includes values, beliefs, knowledge, art, mor- als, customs and habits, which are created over time and shared by members of a society. This framework of meanings allows the members of a society to under- stand each other and influence the ways in which people relate to one another. (1) Dimensions of cultural difference Cultural difference varies in quite different ways in people’s lives: Some scholars divided cultural differences into horizontal dimensions, e.g., Hofstede’s five cultural-difference dimensions and Hall’s concept of high- and low-context culture. In these concepts, each cultural-difference dimension has two poles to describe two opposite extreme situations. Each particular culture could be positioned somewhere within range between the two poles on a scale. Some others divided cultural differences into vertical levels. For example, Hall’s concept of cultural levels which considered hierarchical relationships be- tween cultural dimensions. Television programs also have cultural-difference dimensions if they are produced in one culture and broadcast in another. They are cultural goods as they say something, which must be understood and interpreted in a cultural con- text of television viewers. (2) Degree of cultural difference The starting point of this study concerns some controversial theoretical dis- cussions about cultural difference in universal media products: On the one hand, there is a belief in the world cultural convergence of uni- versal media products. In this world, people genuinely understand each other. One result of cultural convergence is cultural imperialism, which has an...

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