In this journal, Fursich sets out by decrying the effect of commercial satellite television in many Asian countries whose media was state run. This, he says, leaves the old-hand broadcasters with only one way of survival: reassess their role in the newly competitive market. Fursich has a valid point here; the old broadcasters have to re-invent themselves in the ever dynamic market landscape lest they remain irrelevant (Johnson, 54). As we are left to think of the reassessment of the new market’s needs, the issue of globalization of commercial media should be centermost.
The Indian context used by Fursich to advance his argument does not out rightly discredit his point because of the premise that many a researcher have researched on Indian media with reference to the topic. However there are disparities in the measure of response to media commercialization in different third world countries (Eko, 67). To use the Indian broadcaster Doordarshan (DD) as a microcosm of all the third world media is to overlook some vital components of a totalitarian research.
In fact, it makes his expose’ much of India and less of “and Beyond”, an aspect which could have been avoided if Fursich could quote the media situation in some other third world nations. The severe pressure that Fursich says has faced DD in the new satellite and cable channels’ era awaits most of those other “traditional channels”-those that were there before the advent of commercial satellite television (Hamelink, 174). This is because the media was government owned, and the basic purpose was to educate the masses making the need for financing an n entertainment channel veer off the reason for its establishment.
Even as the general policy of these state-owned channels change, to borrow from the Doordashan’s case, the issue of tailing and not leading arises as he aptly states. Most state-owned media across the third world form poor matches to the numerous privately owned commercial channels; one is because their content is more dynamic and the channels are many. The mention of the Television’s historical development since 1950’s serves as a base for understanding the notion of broadcasting as a tool for national development, a concept that still rules in most African media settings (Eko 179).
This tool for national development is what later turned to be a political tool. The argument here fits into the reality very well as stated by Cambridge (151) that the state owned and funded media were overly dependent on western programming and furthered the interests of the political elites while at the same time limiting the forms of expression and national identity development. The present situation, thanks to commercialization of the media has greatly increased the use of communication as part of international trade agreements and not political initiatives (Hamelink 172).
The negotiations in international trade have also enhanced privatization of communication infrastructure a point mentioned by Fursich in his article. The state funding, its abuse by political elite and the widening global marketing can be said to have liberated the media. This follows from Hamelink’s argument (Hamelink 172) above that international trade agreements and not political initiatives improved communication. The end result as Fursich states was that the state-owned broadcasters had to adjust to what he calls a mixed economic model that encompassed advertising and reducing state subsidies.
The new commercial media environment, he adds, led to among others proliferation of shows stations and formats with advertising focused on the haves, neglecting the have-nots. I could not agree more with Fursich on this point primarily because ,brought down by the heavy financial needs so as to achieve its national goals, the national broadcaster of any country will use all means possible to hang onto the issues in its blue print. When faced by imminent downfall, what did Doordarshan do? This question could as well apply to any other state-owned broadcaster in the third world.
DD however had an upper hand as its basic foundation on development mandate and though tailored for this purpose, it positioned itself as not only local but also international competitor to the channels that offered a range of programs. From this information, the issue of ambition can be seen, raising question whether the aims of a given broadcaster can be realized if it crosses the geographical boundary of a third world nation and still aim to satisfy the locals and the ever competitive international market (Johnson, 2000).
The same rhetorical can be inferred from Fursich’s article. India’s effort in making its broadcast center on programming and technological innovations that dealt with agricultural education and nation building is worth appraisal unlike, as Fursich says, the other post-colonial countries’ mixed programming strategy that imported former colonial masters’ programs. This allowed the educational aim of the media to be realized as the citizenry were given lessons on what locally faced them and thus doing away with the surrealistic mixed genres of other post colonial nations.
The state funding of the DD, which was increased (Kumar, 20) thereby enabling promotion of state initiatives and later assisted in the setting of additional centers other than New Delhi. This is worth borrowing especially by the third world nations whose state-owned media stations are at the verge of collapse due to inadequate financing. The focus on the primary goals of a state-owned media can be kept at the same time introduce entertainment programs that were not initially planned for. This can be seen in the case of DD which housed two operas in 1980’s (Fursich, 378) that had been slotted in by the broadcaster in its bid to go commercial.
The themes of the opera the Hum Log was family planning, and women education ,topics that cannot be said to be just for entertaining households but also educating them. The point here is that programs can be chosen so as to work in a two-pronged way, entertain the citizenry and educate them (Kumar 30). The coming into the Indian market by such private broadcasters as CNN and MTV can serve as an eye opener to the state-owned media in the third world into the insight of collaborative business contracts which will ultimately rid them of any financial problems that may result due to the state’s inability to fund them fully.
The localized transmittance of certain programs that appeal to the locals as in the case of India can greatly improve the markets of upcoming economies. The locals will be paying for the programs they like most and in return the state will easily achieve its goals. This is a noble initiative by the Indian broadcaster that should be adopted by the other third world nations. In this case, such issues as cultural conservation can easily be achieved because the localized transmittance serves persons with more or less the same cultural orientations.
Some worries may creep into the state-owned broadcaster because while is strives to accomplish its missions, the state has a stake in what should really reach the citizenry thus making these state-owned media to lack autonomy. Having looked at various aspects of the Indian broadcaster and what challenges it has faced, I can postulate that the same challenges can befall any state-owned broadcaster in the third world. The choice of India a representation of all the third world countries without an attempt of a comparative approach cannot discredit the immense and valuable information by Fursich’s article.