In this essay I will analyise between two regions which are the North America and the Middle East and explain the impact of Colonialism has had on the development of and regulation of the media. This will be examined by the colonial legacy of media in the North America and the Middle East from the following viewpoints: a colonial influence, the impact of media on politics, economics, society and culture. Also it will explain the role of corporations, ownership and control, and globalization.
Starting by defining the Middle East, it is very diverse region and the most turbulent of all world regions. The region has great ancient civilisation; it has inimitable cultural and historical ties.
Middle East has various definitions and understanding. In the early twentieth, Alfred Thayer Mahan used the term “Middle East”, to label the area between Arabia and India. It is known by the westerners as the area bounded by the black Sea to the north, the Arabian Sea to the south, the Mediterranean and Red Sea to the west, and the Indus River (in Modern day Pakistan) to the east.. (G. Sharp, 2011). The main ethnic groups in the Middle East are Arabs.The Middle East is also the historical origin of major religious such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East#Territories_and_regions).
In this essay, it includes all the Arab countries plus Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel, Cyprus, Turkey and Iran. The region has historical, cultural and strategically significance which affected the communication relationships, trade, and its mass media has affected every aspects of the human life. The mass media is somehow controlled by state ownership.
The Middle East is also offers a strong contrast with North American region which in this essay includes the three countries of Canada, United State and Mexico. By examining the media impact on economics, politics and culture and explaining the role of corporations, which are owned by private companies. As it is quite obvious, countries that evolved from Government- owned media to Liberlisation and privatisation would be more flexible to an open market driven economy. (Hamelink, 2002). To sum up, explaining media influence on politics, economics, society and culture.
Globalization means to omit boundaries of many aspects of life among the world societies. Being fond of imitations, without proper understanding what they do imitate in most of the times, the communities in the Middle East are affected by the globalization, and mainly through the media. While this media impact is not so immense in the America, where the origins of changes and development have immerged from it.
Globalization means one sort of life everywhere in the world, which is not realistic in a way. As the world populations needs are adapted to their context, life style and situation, the impact of globalization that is spread mostly by the media, can be negative.
The present media in the world has a great political impact in the world. The current wars that happened in some of the Arab countries, and ongoing in Syria, are judged by many through how they are shown on the media channels, not defending anyone, but this could mislead people to make improper decisions. However, the same media affects culture and economy of the societies.
Colonialism and media development in The Middle East and The North America
Colonization extensions of political and economic control over an area by a state whose nationals have occupied the area and usually possess organizational or technological superiority over the native population. It may consist simply in a migration of nationals to the territory, or it may be the formal assumption of control over the territory by military or civil representatives of the dominant power (“colonization,” 2012).
Almost all Middle East countries experienced European colonialism. In the late seventeenth century people used to communicate through mosques and especially during Friday prayer and daily meetings in the market places. The news spreading were the business of preaches and religious leaders. Technological schools were the center of learning and under the Islamic tradition politics and religion were not separated from each other. As in Iran, news writer (vaghaye-navis) had very important role especially in the court and council, he was a successful disseminator of news until the early 19th century. Paper has originated from Asia and the Middle East; it had carried literary and scientific works of Islamic civilization. Media Technologies were not totally western, but in some countries it was influenced by European education. (Mawlana, 2002).
In 1728, the first printing press was recognized by government aid in Istanbul in turkey. In 1840 the printing press had introduced into the Middle Eat. The first printing press in Iran was brought by Armenians. Egypt had western influence in 1790, while Napoleon brought to the country the first printing press in Arabic and French type. For example the two famous newspapers which had appeared in French language in Egypt were the “Le Courier d’Egypt”, political news and “Le Decade Egyptien” for scholars who were interested in literary development and archaeological study of the Nile Valley. The only Arabic newspaper which was covering the daily events named “Al Hawadith al-Yawmia”. Those newspapers were disappeared after the attacks of Turkish and British. The press of the Middle East was restricted to official journals; it was regulated to the governmental announcements. (Mawlana, 2002, p7).
“European colonial powers such as Britain and France did a great deal to determine the development of and nature of print media in many parts of the world, and they did set up the basis of electronic broadcasting in their colonies.” (Reeves, 1995, p10).
However, the relationship of mass media to social and political developments in the Middle East today represents only the latest phase of a long process of transformation and change that began in the late nineteenth century and extended throughout four generations. For example, during the last two decades of the nineteenth century, two types of publications were emerging in the Middle East: the press led mainly by the Western-trained and -educated elite who were promoting European ideas of secularism, liberalism, and modern nationalism; and the press pioneered by such individuals as Seyyed Jamal al-Din Asadabadi (1838- 1897), who was campaigning for a unified Islamic community throughout the Middle East, Asia, North Africa, and other Islamic lands. Born in the village of Asadabad, near Hamadan, in western Iran, Jamal al-Din (also known as Al- Afghani) was one of the most outspoken and dramatic figures of the Middle East and Islamic world. His oratory skills, combined with his influential journal Al-Urvatul Vosgha (Indissoluble Link), had profound impact in politically mobilizing the people in such countries as Iran, Egypt, India, and Turkey against the European powers. His influence was indeed strong in the Middle East, and his efforts resulted in altering the power base of the press. (Kamalipour & Mowlana, 1994, p. xvi).
Old empires never die; they only fade away: at least that might be said of Britain’s in North America. Not that this is to be lamented. Better by far that disappearance should take place against a rustle of memoranda than to the sounds of warfare. The flag and anthem issues might have aroused much passion but they did not threaten recourse to violence. Change, though fundamental, was accomplished peaceably. (Marshall, 2007).
In 1492, European colonisation started in America; it was occupied by British, France and Spanish. Colonialism had great political, social and economic impact on the life of North Americans.
Though many countries gained political independence from European colonial powers, these links often referred to as “cultural imperialism” make it difficult for them to develop independently. Colonial powers may have physically removed themselves from countries but they often left a lingua franca with the countries’ new governing classes, along with European attitudes and values such as “religion, ways of organizing public life, styles of politics, forms of education, and professional training, clothing styles and many other cultural habits.” Mohammadi observes that, “All of these phenomena continued to have effects long after the formal , direct, political rule of the colonies was ended, and have created a model of domination called neo-colonialism”, which has resulted in new struggles. As a result, colonial domination has deep cultural dimensions linked to cultural freedom.” (Mohammadi, 1995, pp 366-7).
Media ownership, control and economic, political influence in the Middle East & the North America
“Today, the media in the Middle East are a mixture of both private and governmental sectors, with the state, political parties, and the upper strata of society playing an important role.” (Kamalipour & Mowlana, 1994, p. xvii).
As it is obvious, media organisations follow orders; so the media in the North America or the Middle East are either controlled by the private companies or the regimes, or sometimes combined by both. Media in the Middle East are mostly reactive. The media organisations that fall under the government control have to follow orders and can’t refuse or accept the governmental intervention. While it is the contrary, the media are mostly proactive in the North America, the media organisations have the right to refuse or accept which is well mentioned in their constitution. It is mostly proactive in the North America.
Mentioning another major difference between the two regions is that media assets in the North America have many private owners of television and radio stations, and through the advertisement or other resources they seek for financial support. By contrast, most media assets in the Middle East do not have private owners; therefore the media are financially reliant on governments support.
The communication and media systems of the Middle East as a whole represent neither the traditional Western concept of ‘libertarian philosophy’ nor the narrow range of arbitrary ‘authoritarianism’. In particular, most rural areas of the Middle East are still badly served in the matter of communication and media outlets. (Mawlana, 2002, p22-23).
Middle Eastern economies range from being very poor (such as Gaza and Yemen) to extremely wealthy nations (such as Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia). Overall, as of according to the CIA World Fact book, all nations in the Middle East are maintaining a positive rate of growth. The economic structure of Middle Eastern nations are different in the sense that while some nations are heavily dependent on export of only oil and oil-related products (such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait), others have a highly diverse economic base (such as Cyprus, Israel, Turkey and Egypt). Industries of the Middle Eastern region include oil and oil-related products, agriculture, cotton, cattle, dairy, textiles, leather products, surgical instruments, defense equipment (guns, ammunition, tanks, submarines, fighter jets, UAVs, and missiles). Banking is also an important sector of the economies, especially in the case of UAE and Bahrain. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East#Economy).
Today there are 1,570 daily newspapers published in the United States, including dozens in languages other than English and some daily newspapers like, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. The most United States broadcast history is consisted of three networks: National Broadcasting Company (NBC), Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). Also, Americans consume advertising. American advertisers spend more than $134 billion each year. Only seventeen countries in the world had a Gross National Product larger than total United States advertising expenditures. (Frederick, 1995).
However Mexico may be the only developing country broadcasting directly into a “First World” country. In the 1990’s, two factors weigh heavily in Mexican media regulation: the political domination of one party (the PRI) and the glorification of the presidency. Its broadcasting is dominated by one corporation, Telivisa, which started in 1920. The single greatest tension between the government and the market is that Televisa wants to make money and the government wants TV to meet social (read PRI) goals. (Frederick, 1995).
While in Canada, The publicly owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation operates several national radio and television networks in both French and English. For example the private Canadian Television Corporation (CTV) network reaches 97 percent of Canadians with French and English programming.
Canada, Mexico and the United States have significant and multifaceted economic systems. The United States has the largest economy in North America, and in the world. In 2011, the US has an estimated per capita gross domestic product (PPP) of $47,200, and is the most technologically developed economy in North America.
The North American economy is well defined and structured in three main economic areas. These areas are the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), and the Central American Common Market (CACM). Of these trade blocs, the United States takes part in two. In addition to the larger trade blocs there is the Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement among numerous other free trade relations; often between the larger, more developed countries, and Central American and Caribbean countries. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American).
The North American media environment is heavily influenced by unique historical, cultural and political circumstances of the three countries. In some ways, the overlying unity of the NAFTA economic plan obscures the vast differences among and within these communicating societies. (Frederick, 1995, p22).
The end of the cold was the new international economic and political order, the increasing attention of Europe to its “Mexico”, and the Arab Israel peace process, however precious, are having a major impact on the regions domestic political economies. All of its regions are faced with challenges and opportunities of globalization, yet they also share a defensive legacy ingrained by over two centuries of interaction with major European powers, joined in the past half centuries by the United States. Many Middle Eastern view the globalization of finance and business as a threat to their, national, religious and cultural identities, comparable to an earlier period of globalization when the foreign intrusions were associated with European imperialism. (Henry and Springborg, 2001).
When talking about the Middle East and North America, we are talking about two different worlds, which are different from many perspectives. Religion has affected most aspects of life in the Middle East. Normally when religion becomes strong in any society, helps proximity among people, either for the sake of authentic friendship, or for the sake of personal interests and gaining of position in the community. Along the history of the Middle East and up to date, the religious gatherings have been a good occasion and forum for communication and dissemination of certain objectives. Political parties and governments in difficult situations have resorted to the religious figures in order to gain their support.
The colonialists benefitted from the mentioned reality of the Middle East during their stay in the region. Though, they had a directed media and could affect a good part in the society, but still, without the help of the religious and social figures in the communities they could not be very influential.
Nevertheless, the colonial life style and media affected many people in the Middle East, in a way that their effects are valid to date.
Despite the fact that the media in the Middle East are controlled and owned by the states, there is struggle of certain groups that try to separate media from the government, and this is thanks to the colonialism media influence.
Another issue that helps the struggle to separate the media from the ruling system is the globalization, and the notion of the “the world is a big village”.
Whereas in the America the problem of religion, society influence, government control and owning of the media are not of issues. This independence of the media in America has paved the way for the media to be proactive, and draw strategies and set objectives. Unlike the Middle East media, which is hand coughed by the state and should be reactive, and is directed according to the states’ interests.
Another factor that has helped the media in America is that the colonial affect on the society happened many years before the Middle East. Besides, the development of the technology that hit west and used in the best manner happened long before it happened in the east.
In conclusion, the media influence of the colonial countries did affect America much more than it had affected the Middle East, mainly because the religious and demographic compositions in both areas are totally different. The Middle Eastern individuals might accept changes and adaptations, while governments find it more difficult to accept changes and adaptation as system, because they contradict their political interests in most of the cases. This is not applicable to America, as they have passed that period many years ago.