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Australian prof lectures on TV, globalization and the future of mass media

(November 29)—Dr. Graeme Turner, a professor at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies of the University of Queensland (CCCS-UQ) in Australia, conducted a public lecture entitled Television, Globalization and the Future(s) of Mass Media at the GT Toyota Auditorium on Nov. 22.

Organized by the CCCS-UQ, UP College of Arts and Letters (CAL) and the Asian Center (AC), the lecture is the outcome of several research projects which Turner and a team of UQ professors, namely, Drs. Anna Cristina Pertierra, Sukhmani Khorana and Jinna Tay conducted.

Turner posits that because of technological change and changes in the patterns of production and consumption, “we know less about the function of mass media today than we did 30 years ago.”

 “Consequently, and despite the immense amount of industry and academic activity devoted towards addressing such questions, it is particularly difficult for us to be confident that we know what are the likely futures for the mass media,” he said.

He emphasized that with globalization’s free flow of products and services, “the expansion of choice will eventually hit a ceiling, particularly if it depends on increased charges for consumer access to bundles of services; that state withdrawal from the provision of publicly funded media services will continue; and that many non-Western countries will continue to defend their control over their media space as an issue of principle, a means of ensuring political sovereignty and cultural autonomy.”

To better understand the future of the media, Turner asserted that “The future of theories of the media will have to be different to what we have now.” He added among the things to be considered are: 1) media and mass communications theory that is still implicitly based on the mix of commercial and public mass media established in Europe and the US during the broadcasting era; 2) the future of the media, according to media industries themselves, is no longer only that of the mass media; 3) the complex of media platforms is far larger and more diverse than our traditional theoretical base; and 4) new media studies’ increasing independence on industry sources implies that there is an exhaustion in the capacity for independent investigation into and analysis of industry movements.

For instance, he said there is a need for a theory of the media: that is not just about mass media; that is equipped to properly examine the implications of a narrowcast media that is structured solely around the user’s capacity to pay; that no longer assumes that media organizations operate like institutions rather than commercial businesses; which acknowledges that entertainment rather than information is the media’s primary commercial strategy; and which recognises the historicised contingency of media platforms, structures and patterns of consumption across regions and locations.

However, Turner confessed that “At this point, such needs are not being met, and that affects our capacity to think about the future of ‘mass’ (and ‘non-mass’) media.”

After the public lecture, a research symposium and workshop were held on November 22 at the GT Toyota’ Hall of Wisdom. During the symposium, Turner and Pertierra presented some influential studies on the local television programming.

Other presenters in the symposium were Dr. Elizabeth L. Enriquez, former vice chancellor for student affairs and CMC professor; Dr. Nicole Curato, professor at the Department of Sociology of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy; Prof. Jane Vinculado, chair of the CMC Broadcast Communication Department; and Maria Jovita E. Zarate, faculty of the UP Open University. —H.C.P.