The world’s media system is becoming increasingly global and there is no way to deny that. According to Robert McChesney, eight transnational corporations control a large majority of the global media system. But in a strange way, the global media system has led to more local media cropping up. Local entrepreneurs have seen opportunities to provide programming in their local languages, especially when a lot of the content the TNCs provide is not in the local language. Then, furthering the cycle, the TNCs start to provide more content in the local language because they now have to compete with the local products. And although the content provided by the TNCs is often higher quality because they have the budget to create higher quality material, in many places the content provided in the local language will always prevail.
Companies are trying to find more and more ways to localize their content. According to McChesney, in
Asia, Time Warner uses local musicians to do a song used for the promotional campaigns of their movies. They’ve found that this increases interest in movies that are otherwise completely Western. Lots of international channels are also trying to mix English language programming with programming that is in local languages or at least dubbed into local languages.
One of the best formats for dubbing is animation, because the dubbing doesn’t tend to look so obvious. McChesney mentioned that Cartoon Network is dubbed into many languages, even for small countries, like the
. It also makes sense that animation, which is usually children’s programming, is dubbed because children often don’t learn much English until they are school-age. Dora the Explorer is a great example. In the Netherlands , Dora speaks mostly English and teaches a few Spanish words. In the US , Dora speaks mostly Dutch and teaches a few English words. Netherlands
I also found it interesting to see what Dutch adults preferred to watch on T.V. They overall liked to watch Dutch programming the best. While many young people do watch the U.S. show, Jersey Shore, even more watch the Dutch version of Jersey Shore, Oh Oh Cherso, where eight young Dutch adults party and hook up in a Dutch vacation town in Greece.
cast of Oh Oh Cherso
They also love watching their Dutch versions of reality shows like So You Think You Can Dance, X Factor
, and Benelux’s Next Top Model. There are some American shows that are popular, particularly Glee, Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family. But those shows are never dubbed since the Nederland is such an educated country and almost all adults speak English. Besides the fact that most people seem to prefer local content, another reason I think many of the Dutch adults watch Dutch programming more than imported American or English content is that American and English shows are always at least a few months behind and a lot of young Dutch adults just watch them online when they premiere in the US or UK, instead of waiting months for them to be on Dutch T.V. Netherlands
I think the experience of observing a European country’s television habits really helped me to understand the importance of localization. And it leads me to think McChesney cannot not be completely right in believing that the media has become completely globalized. While it was disturbing to see I could watch marathons of Keeping Up with the Kardashians (which I did, by the way, watch anyway!), it is refreshing for me to recognize how much I learned about the Dutch culture just by watching television, meaning that at least in the Netherlands, local content was alive and thriving.