Súil Eile: An Irish Perspective on the Mass Media and Globalization.
A controversy is brewing in Ireland that has brought the relationship between technology, global mass media corporations, and nation-states to the fore—“The Sky Sell-out.”2 The debate was sparked when British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. (BSkyB), a satellite television company owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, bought the rights to Ireland’s qualifying games for the European football championship that heretofore were available free to Irish audiences on terrestrial television. In the aftermath of the World Cup euphoria, many felt cheated by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), which chose to sell the rights to a company that only reaches 25 percent of Irish television viewers. Suddenly, everyone is talking about who owns the rights to national sports events, why our national terrestrial television station cannot afford to buy these rights, why a foreign-owned company bought them, and what national and European laws exist to prevent such a thing from occurring.
For some people, the BSkyB/FAI deal is simply a commercial transaction in line with Ireland’s (and Europe’s) free trade policies and an example of how new technologies are leading to social change, about which we can do nothing. But for many, the transmission of a national sports event is more than a mere commodity; it is a matter of national cultural sovereignty and communications democracy. What irate fans are pointing to, in the numerous newspaper and television pieces, is in line with what many media scholars believe and many European politicians have been arguing—that the mass media play an important role in society not just as economic entities, but also as creators and disseminators of symbolic content that is reflective and constitutive of distinct communities. They argue that the mass media and the goods they produce must be regulated in the public interest. This theoretical position, which has a long history, is increasingly challenged by mass media companies who employ new technologies to operate in multiple jurisdictions and outside the remit of national regulations.
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Dr. Aphra Kerr
||19 Oct 2006
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