Digital Entertainment Jumps The Border

from the sneaking-in-American-culture dept

Countries all over the world are apparently so afraid of American culture wiping out their own, that they have quotas on how much TV programming can come from foreign sources. This just seems silly to me. If the people want to watch American programming, then it really should be their choice. If these countries want people to watch homegrown productions, they should make better productions that are more appealing to their local population. New technology may be forcing this issue. As satellite TV, video-on-demand and (eventually) TV-via-internet start to catch on national broadcast quotas are becoming useless. On the flip side, though, cheaper digital production techniques mean it’s easier and cheaper to create your own local content – so competing with American production studios isn’t as difficult as it once was – so local competition may become much stronger. Anyway, do people in other countries really watch the crap we put on TV? Half the game shows/reality shows are stolen from the UK anyway, and most of the rest of primetime is completely forgettable these days as well.

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Comments on “Digital Entertainment Jumps The Border”

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Brad says:


I think it is that American TV is dumped on foreign networks. It is cheaper than locally produced shows. The TV networks air what is most profitable. Even if it is bad TV the fact it is so cheap makes it push local content off the air. These local laws are needed in small market to help the locals compete. It is the same as America having a steel tarrif to allow them to compete. Viewers like it as it puts better shows on TV.

dorpus says:


One thing to consider is that foreign countries, half on purpose, put on only shows like Baywatch or Playboy channel, creating an impression that we are sex crazed or very greedy. I don’t know how many foreigners I have met in chat rooms who had this impression from watching TV. I’ve told them about the life of the average joe here who doesn’t live in the big city, doesn’t go to the beach often, and they usually refuse to believe it.

Richard Jones says:

Brad's correct

Generally we (in Australia) see shows after they air in the US. They’re dumped here much, much cheaper than their original cost in the US, and significantly cheaper than it costs to produce local material. The market is simply not as big, and thus can’t support the same initial capital investment for new production.

And anyway, just because people will sit mindlessly in front of whatever ridiculously cheap drivel the US can produce, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t encourage local production of more worthy material. Otherwise we’d just broadcast a static picture of “dogs playing poker” 🙂

Tim (user link) says:

No Subject Given

I’m usually a pretty absolute free speech guy, but in this case I’m somewhat sympathetic to other countries’ desires to regulate the amount of US drivel shown on their TV’s.

First, there is the economic argument others have made. Second, broadcasting all these hours of glamorous, rich, and materialistic lives does create a set of expectations that can’t be met in most countries in this century, which then causes all kinds of problems as you have all these people aware that a much richer life is possible, but that they have no way of obtaining it. I think those conditions breed suicide bombers.

Phibian says:

Re: No Subject Given

I am someone who lives in a country that regulates the amount of US drivel (actually, the amount of “foreign” drivel), but am in no danger of becoming disgruntled over the lack of a “richer” life. (I live in Canada!)

I am not an expert in this area, but many countries that regulate US content are not in the category that you describe.

Here at least, the TV channels want to show US (and British, I might add) stuff because it is generally cheaper to re-run than to create and there are simply not a lot of Canadian shows. Also, us unwashed masses want to see the shows that others are talking about in the papers, on the Internet etc, and mostly don’t care about whether the show is US, Canadian or something completely different. I think the second reason is a bigger reason than the first. For instance, I suspect that rebroadcasting Survivor costs more than a home-grown version would, especially because there are subsidies available for Canadian filmmakers, but a homegrown version would not stop viewers from wanting to also see the original.

The regulators insist of a certain percentage of Canadian content (and what is defined as Canadian content gets truly ridiculous) because they are afraid of culture dilution and the “brain drain” (losing our talent to the US because there are no good opportunities here). Of course, this is a massive oversimplification.

However, in my opinion, the regulation is excessive and does not accomplish its goal.

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