In understanding International Communication, it is important for us to identify the concept of media imperialism that is also closely related to dependency theories and cultural imperialism. Based on the previous research, the term media imperialism can be defined by Boyd-Barrett as: The process whereby the ownership, structure, distribution or content of the media in any one country are singly or together subject to substantial external pressures from the media interests of any country or countries without proportionate reciprocation of influence by the country so affected. (Boyd-Barrett (1977:117)) As mass media functions to deliver information in a clearly faster and easier way to the receivers, it has to be understood that not all information is to be rendered without any filters on an issue.
Filtering information affects the messages in terms of cultural information of dependency theory. “The cultural aspects of dependency theory, examined by scholars interested in the production, distribution and consumption of media and cultural products, were particularly relevant to the study of international communication” (Thussu, D. K., 2006). This concept is relevant to the inequality of information in the world because it can be seen that the country with the highest power – making them the superior – have the control of what information can be shown or not, affecting any countries with relevant information to be delivered through mass media if any of the information can be harming to the superior.
This is closely reflected to the Western country, specifically the US, with its control in ‘free flow of information’, where they can choose which information to be broadcasted as they wished as the media proprietors.This free flow concept served US economically and politically in maintaining US as the top country, but which causes the other countries outraged as they were feeling such as that there are a media public watchdog and their freedom of expression is being tied. Therefore, inequality of information occurs.
This ‘free flow’ concept was later supported by modernisation theory that was very influential by international organisations such as UNESCO and from the governments in developing countries. This is again unfair information to the world as this blocks the freedom of running of information from other countries, closely lading to cultural imperialism as well. In understanding cultural imperialism, Schiller defined it as: The sum of the processes by which a society is brought into the modern world system and how its domination stratum is attracted, pressured, forced and sometimes bribed into shaping social institutions to correspond to, or even to promote, the values and structures of the dominant centre of the system. (Schiller, 1976: 9) From this definition, we can see that the dominated countries was forced to be as how the dominant countries are. This is being operated through mass media where the culture, social, economic and modernisation of the modern countries are being forced to be shown to every part of the world to influence especially the younger generations to behaving as much like them, neglecting the moral values in the shows and neglecting the traditions of the countries. This is injustice to some countries as the dominated countries were forced to change and they are not to deliver information that can perhaps be harming to the dominating country, specifically the US.