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According to the European Commission the cultural industries are an important part of the European economy, contributing to wealth creation and an important sources of jobs

The Cultural industries have been identified as engines of economic growth.  With the advent of new communication technologies, the cultural industries have become more sophisticated in terms of their quality and the quantum of reach. Especially broadcasting in the age of satellite and cable technologies has attained a wider reach and thus is transcending the national boundaries. Realising their potential for wealth creation and employment generation, and subsequent contribution to the global economy, the European Commission encouraged the integration of cultural industries in Europe. Keeping in view of the complexities involved in integration, this paper discusses the viability of this integration.

Globalisation of cultural industries is not a new phenomenon. International trade in films and television programs dates back to the early twentieth century much before the trade agreements through GATT emerged when half of the revenues of Hollywood were achieved through foreign markets (Wildman & Siwek, 1988).

Yet another facet of this argument is the cultural protectionism spearheaded by France and the European Parliament. The lessons learnt show that the free trade agreements had a great impact on the structure of the ownership than on the content of the local audio visual markets. This is exemplified in the local television industries in Western Europe, Mexico etc where local consumption patterns still dominate the audio visual markets. This shows the inertia of the cultural practices against the fast progressing internationalisation of capital. On the other hand, it is also argued that, the term 'national culture' has an underlying ideological construct that works, more than the ethnic, gender and class differences, to protect the private economic interests or the exclusionary conception of culture. The case of EU is cited as the best example. While defending the Europe's cultural identity by excluding cultural industries from free trade agreements, the Europe's audio visual policy fostered industrial concentration and has increased the social inequalities in accessing the audio visual offer.

Primarily cultural consumption is to be seen not just as a leisure activity but to be having a consequential social practice. Hence it implies shifting the focus from the choices of consumers to the rights of citizens to cultural development. In that sense trade liberalisation in cultural industries can be seen not as an evil but a feather in the cap for enhancement of cultures and cultural integration through economic integration. The cultural development is obstructed not by the liberalised cultural markets but by the institutional arrangements that favour large media corporations. Thus cultural development needs those policies that aim not at protecting the producers but at democratising the communication resources that help in creating more inclusionary cultural spaces within and across the nations.

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