The Global Village: Media in the 21st Century

The legendary media theorist, Marshall McLuhan, coined the term “The Global Village” to indicate the mass production and the mass consumption of media images and content across the world. The term denotes the coming together of the countries of the world in one gigantic web of media landscapes. To take an example, the popular US news channel, CNN, and the venerable British news channel, BBC, are available throughout the world. Similarly, in entertainment, we have the Star Group that is beamed throughout the world.

In knowledge and information category, we have National Geographic and Discovery that are available all over the world. What this means is that the ready availability of the same content throughout the world is binding the people in all countries to a common theme of oneness and shared media consumption. Hence, the term Global Village to indicate this phenomenon.

In the 1990s with the liberalization of many countries in the world, the global broadcasters entered countries like India in a big way. Though China had and still has restrictions on the kind of content that can be viewed in that country, the opening up of the Indian media landscape to foreign channels represented a revolution in the way media is produced and consumed in the country. Many experts have pointed to the liberalization of the Indian mindset because of the consumption of global media. Indeed, many Indians were exposed to the West for the first time and the consumption of western lifestyle imagery and consumer choices meant that the aspirational values of Indians went up. This was reflected in the burgeoning consumer culture that was the hallmark of the Indian consumer arena since the late 1990s. What this means is that Indians are no longer the monochromatic television viewers who had to contend with just one channel, but instead were consuming media images from across the world.

Similarly, many African countries were exposed to satellite television around this period for the first time. This resulted in greater awareness among the African people about the situation in the west and relatively comfortable lifestyles that the Westerners enjoyed. Like in many countries, the explosion of media choices leads to a widening of the debate in politics, economics, and social sciences. This resulted in calls for greater freedom and better standard of living, which was manifested in the way the people in these countries, started using the media to voice their concerns.

The Media, in turn, were happy to transmit the aspirations of the people and it can be said that TV and Satellite TV in particular was the game changer for many countries that were throwing off the old habits and old attitudes and embracing the Western way of life. We shall be exploring these themes in detail in the subsequent articles. It would suffice here to say that Satellite TV played a prominent role in emancipation of women, more entertainment, and greater exposure to the youth resulting in the MTV Generation that was completely westernized and started to vote with their feet about the kind of products that they wanted to buy and consume.

In conclusion, the Global Village has meant that the vision of “One Market under God” has been realized and this has helped both the marketers who could market their products globally and the consumers who had more choices and a variety of options to choose from. Finally, it also resulted in greater political awareness and liberation of the attitudes among the youth.


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