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Chapter Seven_PhD_Terry Flew

Chapter Seven_PhD_Terry Flew



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Published by: Terry Flew on Jul 22, 2009
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Chapter SevenGlobalisation, International Trade Agreements andAustralian Media Policy
Globalisation and International Trade Agreements
Globalisation is a complex and multi-faceted concept. It has been argued in thisthesis that it incorporates elements such as: international flows of goods, servicesand capital; international movements of people; international communicationsflows; the global circulation of images, ideas and cultural forms; the developmentof regional and multinational economic groupings; the growth of internationalnon-government agencies; and the growing significance of international law andtreaties to the activities of national governments. It is the latter issue, which hasalso been termed the
internationalisation of domestic law
, that will be the focus of this chapter, with particular reference to the significance of international tradetreaties to forms of national media and cultural policy in Australia. Theinternationalisation of domestic law involves a process whereby the traditionalsovereignty of nation-states to determine the legal rules operative within their own territory is increasingly subject to trends towards ‘the national adoption of 31
rules and regulatory regimes formulated by supra-national institutions for adoption by nation-states(Mason 1996: 1).Globalisation can be understood both as a way of describing a substantiveseries of trends towards greater international movements of economic, human andcultural forms, and as a discourse that constructs a particular relationship betweennation-states, national policies and these international movements.Communications media have a particular significance in relation to processes of globalisation, since they constitute the technologies and service delivery platformsthrough which international flows are transacted. Moreover, converging mediaindustries have been leaders in the push towards global expansion and integration,and the global media provide informational content and images of the worldthrough which people seek to make sense of events in distant places.The globalisation of communications media also has an important impactupon the ways in which media is conceived of as both a cultural form and anobject of policy. In particular, since the globalisation of communications media istied up with the growing international trade in media as commodities, it tends toaccentuate the degree to which questions concerning media are framed withineconomic discourses, and challenges alternative conceptions of media, such asthose which stress its role in the formation of a distinctive national culture. In the previous chapter, it was observed how the reform of broadcasting legislation inAustralia in the early 1990s became increasingly tied up with the agenda of 32
microeconomic reform, as communications networks were perceived asincreasingly central to national economic performance. It also becameincreasingly tied up with international treaty obligations, such as those arisingfrom Section 160(d) of the
 Broadcasting Services Act 
1992.While globalisation draws attention to the acceleration of internationaleconomic and cultural flows, there is a need to avoid seeing such developments as being without historical precedent, or as destroying the decision-making capacityof nation-states. There is also a need for caution in associating such trends with amove from national to ‘post-national’ cultures, or to accept a singular logic to thetrajectory of globalisation. The case of Australian broadcasting is significant inthis regard, since in some respects Australian broadcast media were more nationalin terms of their content in the late 1990s than they were 30 years ago. Such a‘nationalising’ of Australian broadcast television content was a result of intersections between the local production industry, network programmingstrategies, competition from imported material, and national cultural policies suchas the Australian content quotas for commercial free-to-air television. This notionof a regulated national cultural space for Australian broadcasting is, however,challenged by new delivery technologies such as cable, satellites and the Internet,new services such as pay television, and by the application of international laws tonational regulations. It is also challenged by the rise of policy discourses thatstress the virtues of openness to international competition and the dangers of regulatory approaches that minimise exposure to outside influences. These trends33

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