Global media in local context: The effects of BBC and CNN news on cultural belonging of local viewers

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Addis Ababa University


The penetration of global media products specially BBC and CNN International News programmes starting the early 1990s in Ethiopia marks a turning point in the country’s media landscape. Local people were exposed to the western products that were made in an environment with its unique political, economic, social, and historical tradition. A larger section of the audiences to these products has been the well to dos of the society until the recent past. However, different sections of the society fall turn by turn to the programmes over the last ten years as cost of satellite receivers fall, and government loosens tighter control of ownership of the equipment. These developments paired with the ever declining local TV content attract even forced local people to put foreign news channels at the center of their choice for current information. This study attempts to investigate how local people relate with both the local and global media, and how they make meaning of it in ways pertinent to their lived reality. By using observations and in-depth interviews I tried to grasp their sense of involvement with the media and perceptions of the locales. The findings showed that experiences of both local and global cultures, values and practices have a distinct role in shaping their perceptions. The responses indicated that audiences did not engage with one locale but shift between the two for different reasons establishing a multisided interaction with the surrounding media. This throws the media imperialism thesis, one of the guiding assumptions of the study, into suspicion. It equally challenges the active audience theory as audiences knowingly get cultivated to the global messages discrediting the anti-hegemonic resistance argument.



effects of BBC and CNN news