- According to the European Commission the cultural industri...
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
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.