Global Media, Television, and the Americanization of Young Africans

Global Media, Television, and the Americanization of Young Africans

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2091-8.ch011
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This chapter examined the perception of young Africans on American values as portrayed in popular entertainment programs. This chapter examined use DSTV as a study example because it is the most popular digital-pay TV with the highest subscription in Africa. Furthermore, the objectives are: (1) To ascertain the major type of western programmes preferred on DSTV among young Africans, (2) To examine the perception of young Africans on whether these TV channels influence the adoption of western values. This research adopted the use of the survey method to achieve the objectives of the study. A value contribution of this chapter is that global television has created multiple media products that have unique elements of American culture, which will distort African values. Also, the influence of American values will have a snowball effect on African youths in different spheres of life.
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Media experts suggest that the influence of the media on our social realities correlates with the extent of our dependence on the media for information (Okorie & Bwala, 2016; Lee, 2017; Okorie & Salawu, 2017; Okorie &Bwala, 2017; Oduaran & Okorie, 2018). Lippmann (1934) as cited in Odukomaiya (1992) explained how we form “the pictures in our heads”. Since people cannot possibly experience most events of the real world first-hand, they derive their knowledge of the world through a “window” provided by the media, even though what people see through this media window is not the actual reality of life but a pseudo-reality.

In the same vein, media viewing have been ascertained to be largely inculcated into our systems, that we do not even realize how much effect it has on an individual's life; from a young schoolboy who is eager to skip school, just to watch cartoons, to a young teenager who craves after the latest musical videos, movies, and idolizes celebrities and other larger-than-life images exposed to on the television. Television has been observed to be one major way of driving information into our systems, whether good or bad, because of the sound coupled with sight advantage it possesses over other media, hence the saying; “Seeing is believing.”

Interestingly, the proliferation of cable and digital television stations in Africa have further increased media viewing among young people. Importantly, Western-American content dominates most of the cable and digital television stations. Okorie (2010) citing Bagdikan (2000) observed that “By 1984, 50 corporations had established a controlling interest of diverse media in the United States. By 1987, the number of firms having the controlling interest was reduced to twenty-six. By 1990, it fell to twenty-three and by 1996; the number was closer to ten. This acceleration pace of global media system is now dominated by nine giant firms. The five largest are Time Warner ($24 billion), Disney ($22 billion), Bertelsmann ($15 billion), Viacom ($13 billion), and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation ($11 billion). While, Viacom, Disney and AOL Time Warner are U.S owned, many non-U.S. owned companies dominate the roster of the largest media groups: News Corporation (Australia), Bertelsmann (Germany), Reed-Elsavier (Britain/Netherlands), Vivendi and Lagadere-Hachette(France) and Sony Corporation (Japan)”. Besides needing global scope to compete, the rules of thumb for global media giants are twofold: First, to get bigger so as to dominate markets and your competition can’t buy such firms out. Firms like Disney and Time Warner have almost tripled in size this decade. Secondly, they have interests in numerous media industries, such as film production, book publishing, music, TV channels and networks, retail stores, amusement parks, magazines, newspapers and the likes.

Scholars, Amosu, 2016; Okorie & Salawu, 2016; Usaini & Ekeanyanwu, 2017; Lee, (2017) agree that these TV products have cultural values that have been embedded in their programmes; a teenager would gladly tune to MTV to catch-up with the latest hit songs; Fox and BET channels to see the recent blockbuster movies and E! TV to watch celebrities shows..

Key Terms in this Chapter

DSTV: This: is an abbreviation for Digital Satellite Television. It is a satellite service owned by Multichoice that is broadcast to about 11.9 million people.

Americanization: In this context, it is the process whereby a person or a group of people share, imbibe and partake in American values, norms, and beliefs by assimilating into the American society.

American Values: These are American norms, ideologies, morals and standards of behaviour practised by people of American descent.

Digital Pay TV: This can also be known as premium or subscription television, which are based on people subscribing to the service periodically, through digital terrestrial, and streaming television. They provide multiple channels to customers according to a particular payment plan.

Young Africans: These: are young (typically immature and inexperienced) people that are of African descent, who grew up with African values, norms and beliefs.

Global Media: It is the communication through the media on a worldwide platform.

Western Programmes: This refers to television content packaged by media professionals from the west (principally Europe or the United States) for a mass audience.

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