Sunday, October 16, 2011

Localization, Glocalisation

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 Netherlands. 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 US, Dora speaks mostly English and teaches a few Spanish words. In the Netherlands, Dora speaks mostly Dutch and teaches a few English words.

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 Nederland, 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 Netherlands 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.

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. 

1 comment:

  1. It is interesting to read your blog since localization the American reality show is happening in Korea. We also have the Korean version of Next Top Model, Dancing with starts, Super Star K (like American Idol)and so on. When I am watching the Korean version of these reality show I could compare with the American version. And actually, there were huge differences not only the contents of the reality show but the way it communicates with the audiences. For example, Super Star K which was really popular in Korea thesedays, it does not show the behind stories of competitors which can be gossiping and being a worse reputation for competitors. When they vote, people do not use the phone but use the wireless internet through smartphone which most of young Koreans have. To select which American reality show should be localized and broadcasted, the culture obviously plays a significant role. I do not think the oh oh chrso kind of shows cannot be localized to Korea where is comparably conservative.

    While many of local broadcasting company make their own version of reality show, it should not be overlooked that the local braodcasting company still pays for the royalty to American company.

    However, in terms of cultural hybriding, as you mentioned through blogging, it is "contraflowing" over the globalization.

    Lastly, for dubbing, the most reason they do is because kids cannot read subscribe not because they do not understanding English, I believe.

    Thank you for your blogging :)