Archive for February, 2012

Libertarian vs Propaganda Model

Posted: February 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

The libertarian model of the media has historical roots in liberal philosophy in the Anglo-Saxon tradition — John Milton, John Locke, and John Stuart Mill. Its basic tenets are philosophically opposed to the authoritarian model. The Marxist critique of the libertarian model, simply stated, is that a libertarian press does not exist, largely due to capitalist ownership of the media.

Noam Chomsky is arguably the most articulate critic of the libertarian notion of a pluralistic media. He argues that the media serve the interests of their capitalist owners and the political elites that they control. In short, that the function of media is to “manufacture consent” around the status quo in capitalist societies.

For a libertarian argument, see this essay by Karn Horn arguing that the media should function as a free market with no claims to special status: “A Market Like Any Other“.  For an American historical interpretation of the libertarian press model, see “From Milton to Media“.

For Chomsky’s propaganda model, see this excerpt from the book Manufacturing Consent. There is also a Wikipedia entry on Manufacturing consent. And see this link for interview exchanges with Chomsky. For a more recent interview with Chomsky, see this link to the New Statesman: “Noam Chomsky“. Finally, several years ago Canada’s National Film Board produced a lengthy documentary on Chomsky and his ideas. To view that documentary, see “Manufacturing Consent“.


China and Censorship

Posted: February 3, 2012 in Uncategorized


The Chinese regime has long been criticized for censoring the media — both domestically and foreign news sources. For a general assessment of media censorship in China. The Chinese regime bans or censors TV news signals from networks like the BBC and CNN. When the BBC, CNN and other signals are not available in China, the regime censors the websites of these news organizations.

For the reporting of news in China, see this article in The Economist, “Reporting Chinese Politics: Hidden News“. For Chinese censorship of foreign news, see this New York Times article on how the Chinese regime blocked BBC and CNN sites before a Nobel Prize ceremony awarding the prize to a Chinese dissident: “China Moves to Block Foreign News on Nobel Prize“. Yet China has global news ambitions of its own. For China’s ambitions as a global TV news power, see “China launches global TV news network”, linked here. Also see “China funds English news channel CNC World in push for soft power”, linked here. Also see “China’s State TV Expands Globally“.

For a report on media censorship in China, see this document published by Council on Foreign Relations: “Media Censorship in China“.

On Chinese television, the popular Chinese talent show called “Happy Girl” (see image above) was inspired by American talent shows using the same format. However, China’s regime suddenly ordered that the show be taken off the air, apparently because it featured “voting” for contestants. See this article in the Economist, “No Voting Please, We’re Chinese” and this article in the New York Times, “Chinese TV Grows Racy and Gets a Chaperon“.  On the subject of TV dramas, see “China’s Censors Take on Prime Time TV“, “Chinese Censors Attack Frivolous Time-Travel Dramas” and, for alist of Chinese bans, “Chinese TV: A History of Bans and Censorship“.

Perhaps more controversially, China systematically blocks news and information on the Web that is deemed threatening or “inappropriate” — and these practices has proved controversial for Western companies such as Google and Yahoo that have sought to do business in China. See this BBC article, “Anger in China Over Web Censorship“. See also this article in Time: “The Great Firewall: China’s Web Users Battle Censorship“. Google originally acquiesed to China’s censorship demands, but eventually became frustrated and refused to cooperate with the Communist regime. On that subject, see “Google’s China Problem” and “Google Shuts China Site in Dispute Over Censorship“. See also “China Cracks Down on Internet Rumour by Detaining Men for Viral Video” and “China to Step Up Social Media Censorship“.

When China won the conteset to host the Olympic games, many wondered whether the event would encourage the country’s communist regime to reform its policies in fundamental areas like human rights. On that question, see this article, “Will the Olympics Democratize China?” On the same issue, see “Once A Winner, China Sees Globalization’s Downside“.

China restricts the number of American and foreign movies imports. China also puts pressure on Western companies, notably Hollywood studios, that make movies whose subject or themes offend the communist regime. Disney provoked the ire of Chinese communist regime by releasing the film, “Kundun“, about the politically sensitive subject of Tibet and the Dalai Lama. China threatened to block Disney’s business dealings in China, notably plans to open Disneyland theme  parks. To make amends with the Chinese regime, Disney rushed out another film more likely to flatter cultural sensitivities in China: the fantasy cartoon “Mulan“. For more on Disney’s troubles in China, see this article in Time magazine, “Disney’s China Policy” as well as this article, “Hollywood’s New China Syndrome“. Also see this article in the New York Times, “Disney Will Defy China On Its Dalai Lama Film“.

For a factoid on Chinese-Hollywood relations, see “Disney, Hollywood and Foreign Films in China“. On Disney’s attempt to ease tensions with China, see this article in the New York Times, “Disney Gains OK to Show Mulan in China” and on the BBC site, “Mulan Bridges Diplomatic Divide“. Also see this article in Time, “China vs Disney: The Battle for Mulan“. On reaction in China to “Mulan”, see this BBC article, “Chinese Unimpressed with Disney’s Mulan“. This article in the Economist, titled “Rupert and the Dragon“, indicated that media mogul Rupert Murdoch was watching Disney’s troubles in China carefully as he plotted his own Chinese business expansion. Disney was eventually rewarded for its diplomacy vis-a-vis China when it opened a theme park near Hong Kong. See this article, “Mouse Zedong? Disney Opens it Gates in Hong Kong“. Finally, in early 2012 China relaxed its quota restrictions on Hollywood films. See this article: “China eases foreign film quota“.