With regard to globalization, I’d argue that international TV content sales are a good thing, while international TV set sales are a bad thing. Television content is different from manufacturing. Even economists tend to agree on this matter.
Can anti-globalization sentiments be applied to international TV content sales the way they are for the sale of other products such as cars and TV sets? Even though I believe in localism (both for manufacturing and TV stations), I’d argue that TV content sales represent the good form of globalization, while cars and furniture, among other items, which are often manufactured in distant lands, constitute the bad form of globalization.
Anti-globalization also means supporting food at “zero kilometer” (farm-to-table in the U.S.), reducing pollution, generating more local jobs, and offering low energy costs.
Before moving to the television content exemption, let me first say a few words about consuming local foodstuffs.
Nature, in all its wisdom, is anti-global. It has devised a way to grow food according to seasons, as well as people’s needs. In the winter we need vitamin C to fight the common cold. Nature, therefore, has given us oran-ges. In the summertime when dehydration can be a problem, watermelons abound. In the fall, when the human body needs to reinforce immune systems, here come grapes. We won’t do ourselves any favors if, because of globalization, this natural order becomes disrupted.
Economists see globalization in purely scientific terms. Nations with little capital and large labor forces tend to attract nations with tons of capital and smaller labor forces. The same economists, however, recognize that globalization doesn’t help rich countries where manufacturing is concerned. And to their “good” list they add the service sector, which includes consulting, banking, and surprisingly, television’s content sales. While I agree about television, I wouldn’t include consultancy and banking among the “good” parts of globalization. The former because it often generates conflicts of interest and distorted advice, especially at government levels; the latter because it fosters money laundering and tax evasion, which in turn negatively affects local economies.
Now, to reinforce the opinion that anti-globalization issues cannot, in my view, be applied to international TV content sales, I put forward three explanations. First, worldwide content sales help local production. Indeed, increased international content sales helped to create production companies at local levels. It is not the same with imported cars or clothing.
Imagine if a TV network had to spend its entire programming budget just on local productions. Its business model would not be sustainable.
Second, foreign programs increase local quality (for competitive reasons), and expand creativity (re-sulting in more varied programming).
Third, on a cultural level, they expand viewers’ minds. Years ago, with the Cold War raging, Soviets would risk jail in order to listen to or watch foreign programs. Even today, broadcasts to North Korea are regularly jammed, and yet people still manage to get some refreshing content from their neighbor in the south.
The question remaining is how to effectively convince globalization-minded U.S. studio executives of the fact that international TV content sales represent the best form of globalization.
(By Dom Serafini)
Audio Version (a DV Works service)