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The Unresolved Issue of NationalSovereignty and Cultural Autonomy in the
Wake ofNew Communication Technologies
Luke Uka Uche*
The thesis of this article is that the national interests ofAfrican states make it imperative for them to carefullyevaluate, assess and examine the development of their presentmedia structures and ownership patterns. The articleidentifies some of the new communication media in theAfrican context and offers a detailed review of the nationaland international ramifications of their selection andadoption as privately-owned enterprises.
*Dr Luke Uka Uche is a Senior Lecturer in the Department ofMass Communication, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria.
Le Communication de Masse et l'ldentite Culturelle: I/EternalProbleme de Souverainete et Nationale et de l'AutonomieCulturelle face aux Nouvelles Technologies deCommunication
La these de cet article est que les Interets natlonaux desetats afrlcains les obligent a evaluer et examinersoigneusement le developpement des structures et les modelesde propriete actuels de leurs medias - L'article identifle dans lecontexte africain certains nouveaux medias decommunication et fait une analyse detaillee desramifications nationales et internationales de leur selectionet adoption en tant qu'entrepries privees.
Culture, since the inception of modern masscommunication systems, has consistently dominated theliterature of mass communication studies. It has become adominant theme because of its embodiment as the totality of apeople's ways of life and conducting the affairs of their socialsystems. Its implications on national sovereignty thereforebecome quite obvious to any particular nation; especiallythose nations on the periphery of the mass media hard - andsoft-wares.
The era of post-industrial (information) society isaccentuating the cultural dominance of the mostindustrialized societies on the developing societies of Africa,Asia and Latin America.
However, this situation is traceable to culmination ofhistorical factors, such as the industrial revolution,colonialism, neo-colonialism, the era of the development ofindustrial-military complexes, and post-industrialism. Themodel of cultural triangulation (Uche, 1987), culturalsynchronization (Hamelink, 1984), theoretical framework oncultural context for the international study of youth andmusic formation and interaction (Robinson, 1986), all givevarious rationales that explain the basic issues of culturalidentity and mass communication.
Some of the dominant and impressive literatures, among theexisting array of work of cultural studies in masscommunication, include: Gerbner (1973. 1986), Melody (1981),Nordenstreng (1974, 1979), Ugboajah (1972, 1985), O'Brien(1975). Schiller (1967, 1979, 1986), Uche (1986a, 1986b, 1987),
Hoffmann-Riem (1987), Jakubowicz (1986). Servaes (1986).Gurstein (1986), Jussawalla (1986). Ekwelie (1985). Hall (1979.1985), Katz (1973, 1979), Golding (1979). The existing array ofliterature in mass communication and cultural identity isjust too overwhelming. The author has not deliberately leftout the names and works of some of the most outstandingscholarly research work of renowned academics in the field.
The advent of new communication technologies has addeda new dimension to the problem of cultural autonomy andnational sovereignty in global communication. The authorhas made an observation in the Richard Cole and RobertStevenson project on Communication Research in theTwenty-First Century (forthcoming) that the debate we wereall confronted with on the new world information andcommunication order will eventually be regarded as child'splay during the twenty-first century and beyond when theaccomplishments of post-industrial information societymight have been consolidated. The capability of the newcommunication technologies to perpetuate, sustain andimpose the dominant culture of the media core countries onthe peripheral (dependent) countries is no longer a subject ofcontention. The trend in one-way flow of information andcommunication from the industrialized world to mostlyThird World countries is related to political and economicstructures of the developing countries.
The crumbling of the economies of the Third Worldnations, resulting in heavy indebtedness to the industrializednations, is tied to their inevitable dependence on heavy agro-industrial and consumer goods, being imported from theadvanced countries of which new information technologiesform a major aspect in the communications industry as aservice economy. Such new communication technologies asthe coaxial optical fibre and satellite dish intelecommunications have made dependence a fait accompli
The rate at which new communication technologiesspring up and the ramifications of these new technologies inthe formulation and execution of domestic policies andconduct of foreign policy and international diplomacy,prompted Nigeria to hold a major national seminar (February2-7, 1987) for the development of a national communicationpolicy. The Federal (Nigerian)' Ministry of Information andCulture, the sole organizer and architect of the seminar forthe formulation of a new national communication policy,
presented a paper under the title: "Considerations for theFormulation and Implementation of Public Policy on MassMedia Hardwares: The Challenges of New CommunicationTechnologies".
The Federal Nigerian government paper basicallyaddressed the twin problems of cultural autonomy and mediaprivatization in the country, and the implications of the newcommunications hardwares developed and being marketed bythe advanced industrialized countries of the North. Because ofthe relevance of the Federal Nigerian governmentpresentation the author has decided to base this articlemostly on the contents of the Federal Nigerian governmentpaper for a further reflection on the issue of the interplay ofmass communication, cultural autonomy, and nationalsovereignty in the wake of post-industrial informationsociety.
The Nature and Social Functions of the NewCommunication Technologies
The dawn of the post-industrial information society,characterized by Information Technologies (IT), isundoubtedly going to have a great impact on the cultures andmass communication contents of both the industrialized anddeveloping world. Because the advanced technologies areoriginating from the industrialized societies, they will existto set the cultural agenda on the dependent nations whosecultural identity and national sovereignty may have to toe thecultural line of the media core countries. Mankind hasdemonstrated his capacity to invent and conquer naturalbarriers in a bid to achieve efficiency and reliability ininformation processing. The age of communication andinformation revolution is here. We now live in a globalinformation society. However, African and other Third Worldnations are yet to undergo the political, economic, social andtechnological transformations needed to become a member ofthe much-talked-about information society.
Let us take a brief inventory of some of the new forms ofthe new media, as detailed by Myung (1985: 173-177). TheCable TV, unlike the conventional TV systems, comes with thecapability to transmit TV programmes through a cableinstalled between the station and a subscriber's home. It also
has the in-built technology that offers information such ashome-banking, home-shopping, and telemetering. TheVideotex and Teletext systems make it possible forinformation, stored in the form of characters and diagramsin databases to be decoded on your television screens whenneeded, by pushing the appropriate button. Videotex providesInformation on stock trading, the weather, shopping, travel,etc; etc. On the other hand, Teletext allows one whose TV sethas the appropriate gadget to call up information whenever heneeds it. However, the information is transmitted along withTV programmes. The Direct Satellite Broadcasting Systemallows a television household to receive TV programmesdirectly from a satellite. The Still Picture Broadcastingprovides lecture programmes on any subject. The VideoResponse System relies on wide-band lines of either co-axialcables or fibre optics to provide the same function as Videotex,In addition to voice-overs and moving pictures.
It is the amalgamation, or rather integration of tele-communication, postal communications, broadcasting andthe print media computer that we refer to as the "new media".Formerly, each of the four was independent of one another.But modern technological advances have made It possible tomerge them. This has resulted In the advent of another media- electronic mail and electronic newspapers. The consequenceof the new media is that there is no longer any defineddemarcation between mass communication andtelecommunication, as used to be the case in the past.Telecommunication system has constructed IntegratedServices Digital Networks. The Implication of this Is thatwhile in the past, such individual networks as telegraph,telephone, telex existed and functioned Independent of eachother, the advent of ISDN now makes it possible for all theseonce independent communication media systems to bemerged into one single network.
When the technologically dependent nations make theirselection on the adoption of the new media, their choice isusually influenced by the following technical characteristicsthe new communication technologies possess: promptness,effective bit rate, cheapness, reliability, accessibility,storage/retrieval capacity and confidentiality. They are alsoInfluenced by the following technical functions the newmedia also possess: specific Instruction, marketing
information, news and weather services, entertainment,opinion formation, and personal correspondence.
In the developing nations of Africa, the new mediatechnologies are being adopted because of the expectedservices they promise: that of raising the overall quality oflife of rural residents in our numerous villages. The overallquality of life they are expected to lead is determined by the degreeof the fulfilment of the following human goals: individual, group,material and spiritual, as postulated by Susanna Eun (1985).These goals are expected to lead to the formulation ofcommunication policy in the new technology that would lead tothe provision of basic human needs, such as nourishment,shelter, clothing, health, etc; etc.
The Political and Cultural Realities of the New MediaTechnologies
Ordinarily, mankind, in all the countries of the world,irrespective of political leanings and ideologies, would havethought that the advent of the new communication andinformation technologies would lead to accelerateddevelopment in the Third World. This has not been the case. Itis still a hallucination to think that the new communicationtechnologies are independent phenomena that would createnew societies and new human conditions as our previoussection had outlined. A Third World critic of the new media,Dongshin Lee, (1985), is convinced that "advancedcommunication technologies such as computer networks andsatellite broadcasting systems were introduced to many ThirdWorld countries only to worsen the cultural and financialdependency upon the advanced nations". The newcommunication technologies do not only have extensivepotentials to widen the North-South information gap, butalso the capability of promoting and consolidating Westerncultural and economic dominance. Since the debate on theNew World Information and Communication Order (NWICO)began, there has been very little change, if any, in the flow ofinformation and media contents along the North-Southinformation axis, (Uche, 1985).
Communication and Information experts have identifiedtwo dimensions to the debate on new world information andcommunication order. One aspect of the debate is concerned
with fairness (objectivity) in the media contents (bad newscoverage) that gives negative picture of African and otherThird World nations by the mass media of the industrializedworld. The other area of the debate deals with the uneven flowof information that virtually gives a monopoly ofdissemination of media products that assault and threaten tosubmerge and subdue the cultures of the developing countries,(Uche, 1985: 283-289).
While academics seem to be concerned with both mediacontent and information flow and balance between the Northand the South, bureaucrats and other administrators ingovernments and related parastatals and agencies are not atall only concerned with the research orientations andproblems the academics have identified by relating to thecontents of the new channels that also gave rise to the debate,but rather, they (administrators and bureaucrats) areprimarily concerned with the economic data that aretransmitted daily across national borders for the benefit oftransnational corporations, (Uche, 1985; Artwood andMurphy, 1982). Also implicit in the latter's concern is theidentification of the potential for direct satellite broadcastingand the use of earth-scanning satellites.
All these pose many problems in the national security ofpolitically and economically weak nations in Africa, LatinAmerica, Asia, etc; etc. In this regard, the following fair andhonest evaluation of this aspect of the new broadcasttechnology by a former director of the United StatesInformation Agency, (Nordenstreng and Schiller, 1979: 30)buttresses our point:
Long before a direct broadcast satellite therewill be electronic networks - some of them already inoperation - which will pose realistic questions aboutinformation flow and cultural integrity Thesenetworks will move massive amounts of informationthrough high-speed circuits across nationalboundaries. Moreover, they will be effectively beyondthe reach of the traditional forms of censorship andcontrol. The only way to "censor" electronicnetwork moving 648 million bits per second isliterally to pull the plug. The international extensionof electronic mail transmission, data packet networksand information-bank retrieval systems in future
years will have considerably more effect on nationalcultures than any direct broadcast systems
Also, the transmission of economic data to theenrichment of multi-national corporations and to thedisadvantage of the developing nations, through the newtechnologies, is perceptively summarized by Herbert I.Schiller, (Ibid) an acclaimed American communicationsscholar:
It requires little imagination to predict who willhave control of and access to these (new) electronicnetworks IBM now sits astride the global computermarket. Poor nations and voiceless subgroups withincountries, developed and nondeveloped, are and willprobably be shut out from these powerful newcapabilities of administration and governance. Unlessthere is social mobilization and awareness, not nowapparent, further domination and dependency will bethe likely accompaniments of the extension of the newinformation technology.
That the new information technology is synonymous withdomination and dependency is also further attested to by thefollowing account that Schiller (Ibid) further presents:
a minority report of a Brazilian governmentinquiry on the impact of the multinationalcorporations in Brazil, found that 'the multinationalshave concentrated on producing expensive goods, suchas automobiles and colour television sets, thatdemand a concentration of income so more debtshave been built up to finance the consumption ofluxury goods instead of satisfying the minimumnecessities of nutrition, health, housing, andemployment.
It is now quite obvious that the coming of newcommunication and information technologies has broughtalong with them new systems of governance; a new systemthat is quite technologically sophisticated. A nation'snational interest and security are the guiding factors in any
selection and adoption of the new information andcommunication technologies. The advent of new technologiesmakes information gathering and dissemination no longerthe exclusive^preserve of governments and their agenciesbecause the technologies are making information easilyaccessible to those multinational corporations that are richerthan most governments of the developing world. Thefollowing insight Schiller (Ibid) provides on the political andeconomic involvements of the Multi-National Corporations(MNCs) is quite revealing:
in the workings of a worldwide marketeconomy certain centres dominate for a variety ofeconomic and socio-historical reasons. The normaloperation of the system presupposes that capital isexported to places where the return is attractive,industrial facilities are created in new locations,workers are recruited, and production is expanded (orcontracted) according to market demand. New socialclasses emerge, and old social formations aredisbanded. Transnational (and local) mediaparticipate vigorously in the process, both as profit-making business with products to sell and aspromotional and marketing agents in the systemoverall. However, if the basic patterns of capitalisticenterprise in a country seem threatened,intentionality replaces the less deliberate processes ofconventional system maintenance. When this does infact occur, the role assigned to the media is largeIndeed. For it is to be expected that the transnationalmedia will do everything they can to rally support forthe political "climate" that they find hospitable.
In our determination to reinforce our public policy as itaffects dissemination of information and ownership pattern,the following revelations by Schiller (Ibid) are quiteinstructive:
where the power of the MNC (Multl-NationalCorporation) and its allies in the media andintelligence services can be introduced effectivelydevelopment that attempts to take a directioncontrary to MNC criteria Is thwarted and overturned.
Coups generally are a last resort and are undertakenonly when the situation has gotten out of hand Inthe less developed and economically feeble ThirdWorld countries, the elites, possessing little or nodomestic infrastructure of economic support, are moreoften than not, the visible spokesmen and directIntermediaries of the resident MNCs.
Finally, Schiller concludes his litany of offences of themultinational corporations with the following shockinginsights:
Accompanying the corruption of political life isthe political infiltration and utilization of the localmedia beyond the "normal" penetration effectedthrough commercial arrangements. In addition to theflooding of foreign economies with commercial TVprograms, films, published materials, and tourists,foreign-based news organizations and publishingcompanies are infiltrated. This accomplishment hasthe neat effect of controlling the flow of internationalinformation in all directions.
The Demand for Government Divestiture of MediaOwnership
In view of these numerous revelations of how theinternational economic market systems that invent,manufacture and sell the media hardwares work very hard toexist for the economic and political control of the lesspowerful and weak nations is the call by the privileged, elitistNigerian intellectuals and financiers for the government todivest itself of media ownership and, to hand them over to afew opportuned and privileged Nigerians, in order? Nigeria'smixed economy of state ownership and private ownershipmakes the timing of the demand for total privatization notpropitious at present. The constant explosions in newcommunication technologies for the dissemination ofinformation, most of which threaten the sovereignties of theweak and less powerful nations, make it imperative for amore dynamic communication and information policy thatguarantees Nigeria's and other African countries' national
security, defence purposes and their sovereignty and integrityto be formulated.
The dimensions of modern communication hardwaresmake it imperative for the governments of the developingcountries (including those in Africa) not to get isolated byallowing big multinationals, through their local fronts, totake over the moulding, and control of their nationals' publicopinion, thus leading to the mortgaging of their hard wonindependence. This would be tantamount to recolonizationthrough giant international and local businesses paving theway for the second coming of colonization.
The development of modern communication mediahardwares is equally leading to appropriate informationpolicies in all the nations of the world.. Modern systems ofmass communication are no longer the simple paraphernaliathey used to be, solely used for dissemination of information.They are increasingly getting extremely sophisticated andeconomically and politically allied to the military power ofthe powerful nations that have Invested heavily on nuclearweapons, ready for doomsday as well as the subjugation ofthe less privileged nations. It is doubtful if any nation can, atthis stage in modern warfare and development ofcommunication technology, win any of its battles withoutintegrating the most advanced modern communicationtechnologies. We are all aware of the jamming of radars inmilitary confrontations of recent times. We are also aware ofsimilar jamming of radio stations to stiffle public opinions ofweaker nations.
If Nigerian and most African countries are stampeded intohanding over the most vital and sensitive informationsystems in their countries to private enterprises, what thenbecomes their fate when a mad man or a saboteur acquiresany of the sophisticated communication technologies? Anexample will suffice: when the United States spaceship, TheChallenger, crashed immediately it was blasted off for itsspace mission, initial news reports suggested the probabilityof ham (amateur) radio operators interfering apparently withThe Challenger's communication systems, leading to theshort circuiting of its systems. Even though official probefindings blamed top officials for negligence, resulting fromover-used systems that failed to function when The Challengerwas blasted off, the possibility of an amateur radio operatorusing his electronics gadget to short circuit The Challenger's
system remains. The question the U.S. experience raises is: ifAfrican nations continue to rely on the communicationtechnology of the industrialized North, can they affordprivatization of the media at this time of their nationaldevelopment (where tribal and religious loyalties come first beforepatriotism for the nation) to the extent that national security andintegrity are endangered?
It is instructive, at this juncture, to inform the nationals ofAfrica and other Third World nations that in the UnitedStates there is a Federal Government agency known as theFederal Communications Commission (FCC) that exists toallocate frequencies, supervise and license radio AM, FM andTV stations. Licenses are granted for a period of three yearsand are renewable for another three-year period provided thestation owners show evidence of having met the needs,interests and necessities of the communities in which theyare located. Once any citizenship group petitions the FCC,accusing a particular station of violating any of the numerousguidelines for which it was licensed, the FCC institutes a fairhearing. If, at the end of such a hearing, a station is foundguilty, its license is either withdrawn and the station sold toanother competitor, or Its license is renewed for a period lessthan the normal three years, or it gets a warning.
It is also interesting to note that in a capitalistic countrylike the United States, with a laissez-faire economicpractices, individuals and groups are restricted as to thenumber of radio and TV stations to be owned. It was not untilAugust 1984 that the FCC revoked a 1948 seven station rulethat placed a ceiling on multiple station ownership from 7television, 7 FM and 7 AM radio stations to 12 stations ineach case, (Levin, 1986: 25-28). The FCC law also forbids anyforeign participation in ownership of any radio or TV station. If anation that was founded on a free enterprise, a nation as oldas 212 years, is still carefully controlling and regulating Itsbroadcast media Industry, is it really to Nigeria's and Africa'sinterest (mostly 'infants' of approximately 30 years old whencompared with a giant adult like the U.S.) to privatize theirmedia industry? Is such a policy in the interest of a continentof numerous and autonomous nationalities, where nationalloyalty only recently began to rapidly evolve; a developmentthat only started after many devastating civil and liberationwars and other natural catastrophes and disasters.
It is also instructive to remind those agitating forprivatization that as old as Western European nations thatcolonized Africa are, the broadcast media in some of thesecountries are still public utilities, under direct governmentsupervision and control. It was only a few years ago that anindependent broadcasting authority was allowed to operateand compete with the publicly-owned BBC in Britain. InFrance, the government owns and controls the broadcastingindustry. Its director-general retires with the governmentthat appoints him/her. A suggestion a couple of years ago onprivatization triggered off hostile reactions from the Frenchpublic.
At this stage in our development process in Africa, it willbe too dear a price to pay if, for purely economic reasons,African governments formulate public information policiesthat allow ultimate private ownership of the electronicmedia. The various national communication policies shouldbe such as to make sure that the media that are publicutilities. Consequently members of boards of directors shouldbe appointed to represent every spectrum of the society. Nogovernment should dictate to editors and reporters what topublish. Our democracy should be reflected in our mediacontents. It is therefore the view of this paper thatprivatization of the broadcast industry in a continent astribally divisive as Africa is, where the ethnic sentiment andloyalty take precedence over nationalism and patriotism,more especially at this level of development and increasingdependence for economic survival on the industrializedNorth, and her heavy international debt burdens, should notbe rushed.
If we must privatize, we should not start with ownership ofelectronic media but begin privatization with themanufacturing of components like transmitters, integratedcircuits, TV picture tubes, stereo sets, cassette sets, stereoamplifiers, loudspeakers, capacitors, etc. etc. all of which arepre-requisites for self-reliance and final ownership of theelectronic media by the private sector. There is, of course, apolitical motive, more than economic, as the ultimateimmediate drive toward privatization of the basic publicindustries all over Nigeria and some African countries at thistime of level of development in technology. It is beingspearheaded by the nouveau riche who want power and not
orderly development, to back up and defend their wealth.One of Nigeria's renowned scholars in the field of mass
communication, late Frank Okwu Ugboajah (1976), in one ofhis studies, discovered that government-owned media inNigeria were very independent. He found no evidence of anygovernment interference. The following are his assessments:
Government ownership of the media... does not...leadto control on free flow of information as generally isthe apprehension in some intellectual circles. Themass media in Nigeria still function in their normalcultural way, and the ownership of newspaper by stategovernments, rather than bring tighter control onmass media performance in Nigeria, lends variety andflexibility to their performance by offeringalternative media voices...
In this revealing study, Ugboajah (Ibid) was convincedthat "expanding state media ownership in Nigeria should beviewed as a healthy sign of media proliferation and anexpansion of media voices rather than a signal of governmentcontrol". What worried Ugboajah most, rather thanmisconceptions about government ownership of the massmedia in some intellectual circles, as he asserted, was theparochial orientation of the mass media. The followinglamentations of his is a further indication of non-government interference In mass media management, as he(Ibid) perceived it at the time of his study:
Mass media behaviour appears moulded by the fact ofgeographical administrative location. Independent ofownership Their attitude is usually a function ofgeographical location more than ownership, andcertainly guided by the ethnic constituencies (they)serve.
There couldn't be a better vindication of governmentparticipation in the mass media enterprise and policy of non-interference than Ugboajah's objective assessment, devoid ofany sentiment. This does not, however, mean that successiveNigerian governments, since Ugboajah's study, have beenrespecting this tradition. Administrative contingencies havehad tremendous Impact.
The trend In modern mass communication technologicaldevelopments and practices in information disseminationseems to suggest continued dominance and (imposition?) ofthe cultural, economic, and political values and preferences ofthe technologically advanced and industrialized societieswith the most modern and sophisticated communication andinformation hardwares, and comfortably developed mediabases from which most of the world's news sources originate.This trend does not take cognizance of the national needs,commitments, cultural autonomy, security and sovereignty ofthe. developing countries, as constituting the framework of theinformation, telecommunication and mass media policies ofthese nations with pitiable weak political and economicbases, where expert manpower is non-existent to develop atechnological base.
In this article, we have not only identified some of themajor new media, but have also detailed the national andinternational ramifications of their selection and adoptionas privately-owned enterprises. If privatized, their ownerscould be fronting for the multinational corporations. Thethesis of this paper is that our national Interests, especiallyeconomic self-sufficiency in food production andindustrialization, political stability that guarantees ourvarious African nations' territorial integrity and itsindivisibility, and preservation of our culture, make itImperative for a careful evaluation, assessment andexamination of the development of our present mediastructure and ownership.
If the audio cassettes that contained the revolutionaryinstigations of Ayatola Khomenl who was In exile in France,which were smuggled into Iran, triggered off the revolt againstt h | Shah and his eventual overthrow; and spliced-up tape ofevents at the Manila International Airport on the dayBenigno Aquino was assassinated and his funeral, ascaptured by videocassette recorder (VCR), could provoke ademocratic revolution in the Philippines that toppled adictator, it means that the new media, in the predictions ofNora C. Quebral (1985: 199) "could potentially be used tofoment revolution of another kind in politically unstablecountries " From the foregoing, it therefore means that
constant technological break-throughs in thecommunication and information field make public policyformulation to be adapted to risk and uncertainty, especiallyin the developing countries that depend on advancedcommunication technologies that come from outside theirpolitical spheres of jurisdiction.
Ideally, a technologically developed or developing countrywould naturally have no problem deciding what publicinformation policy to choose, among available options, aftera thorough analysis, examination and appraisal of "allpossible courses of action and their possible consequencesand after an evaluation of those consequences" (Braybrooke &Lindblom, 1970: 40) in the light of its values. But presently,the rate of technological development in the Africancontinent and other poverty-stricken Third World countrieshas not synchronized with their societies' values, as none oftheir information hardware is locally-produced. One fact thatobviously surfaces from this article on NationalCommunication Policy for Nigeria as they relate toderegulation and privatization and/or deregulation of mediaownership, and as they also affect the sovereignty of thenation, its cultural values and democratization of thecommunication media, is that the new communicationtechnologies may submerge the cultures of the less developednations, thereby threatening their sovereignties, due to aperpetuated economic dependence that may weaken theirpolitical base. Our package of information policy involves thetotality of a nation's experience in all spheres of her humanendeavour. Major developments and accomplishments in allsectors of any society form the basis of its information policy,as predicated by national interest.
In the absence of locally advanced and developedtechnologies in the communication and information field inthe developing Third World nations, of which Nigeria is apart, it will not be appropriate to Identify policy-making,policy analysis and decision-making with problem-solvingin the field of communication/information - a field that iswitnessing an explosion of new discoveries, with each newinvention rendering obsolete a previously acquired hardware.Presently, Third World developing nations have no challengeto pose as an alternative to check Western culturaldominance, through information technologies, based on the
existing realities in their framework in policy formulationand implementation.
It therefore means that as of now we rather treat policy asit concerns mass communication and cultural identity as anintellectual issue, rather than as a practical guide in an era ofAdvanced Information Technology (AIT) where the ThirdWorld nations have found themselves at the mercy of theindustrialized societies that invent and manufacture thecommunication hardware. Perhaps in the future. Third Worldscientists in the relevant technologies in communication andinformation processing, could be the most influential actorsin the new media policy option, in their respective countries.
The battle for using mass communication for theprojection of the cultural values of the various social systemsof the world has been fought, won and lost. This is a fact wemust admit. It is a victory for the warlords of thetechnologically industrialized societies of the North. Thebattle strategy was plotted at the era of the industrialrevolution, and spanned through the periods of colonialism,independence, neo-colonialism and post-industrialism.
Eadh technological breakthrough in the science ofinformation and communication was heralded by a deceptiveoptimism and belief that it would expand cultural horizons bytransmitting those ideas, values and habits of the variouscultures that portray the diversity of mankind, especially aspart of the communicative activities includes thetransmission of a cultural heritage from one generation toanother (Wright, 1975).
The technological breakthrough in communication /information hardwares, mostly being invented and processedin the industrialized Western societies and a few otherdeveloping nations in Asia, are increasingly widening theinformation imbalance and cultural dependence between theindustrialized and most developing nations in the ThirdWorld. This places the multinational corporations inextremely privileged and advantageous positions in economicdata gathering as information is an economy of scale. Thiscould definitely lead to the perpetual economic and politicalenslavement of the less economically viable and politically
stable nations in Africa and other areas of the Third World.The trend in modern mass communication technological
countries, seems to suggest the inevitable imposition of thecultural, economic and political values and preferences of thesocieties with the most advanced communication andinformation technologies and the media source countries,from where most of the world's news sources originate. This isa threat to the national sovereignty of the dependentcountries. The consequence is that the cultural values,national aspirations, economic needs and politicalindependence of the developing nations are not taken intoconsideration. The danger of the threat to cultural autonomyand national sovereignty is that the rapid speed with whichnew communication and information technologies spreadwill entail greater curtailing of freedom of self-expressionand that of the media in the developing countries of Africaand the Third World.
Our prediction is that most of the developing world willpractically resort to denial of free speech and willIncreasingly use autocratic means to censor and interferewith the individual's and society's right to fundamentalfreedoms and that of the communication media.Governments In the media dependent countries or peripheralcountries will increasingly get involved In media ownership,especially In the area of the electronic media, solely to protectwhat remains of their national interests, cultural identity,preservation of their territorial integrity and theindivisibility of their nations. All these anticipated actionscould also be an exercise In futility because, currently,African governments and their counterparts in other areas ofthe Third World, have no effective challenge to pose to theWestern communication technologies as alternatives to checkforeign cultural dominance, through advanced informationtechnologies.
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