A Comparative Analysis of Past and Current Television

By: Patrick O’Shea and Mike Schneid

The 1990 film “Distress Signals” focuses on the growth of American industries in world wide television.  Developing countries during this time are still trying to move in the correct direction of TV broadcasting, but have limited abilities due to the expenses that come from making original television content.  Canada and African countries, specifically, were examples in the film that found themselves trying to air their own content, but had to turn to cheap American programming to make up for the cost of producing domestic material.  These countries face the issue of losing their own culture and representation on television.

There are multiple aspects in the film “Distress Signals” that are relevant in current television broadcasting. America, is still, and will be in the future, the most dominant television industry in the world.  Pumping out new ideas in the television world, American television continues to grow.  Although certain countries may have improved in the television industry since the movie, they still are not able to compete with America.  New filming techniques is something that is relevant in today’s filming industry that was not during the time that “Distress Signals” was filmed as countries have learned new ways to broadcast their shows, movies, etc.  If the movie was made today, the improvement in technology would be added as the internet provides new ways for us to view specific television that we want to see.  Additionally, there would be a mention of more competing countries in the television industry.


Globalization:  The spreading of a product or an ideal around the world.  In the film globalization is seen in the expansion and spreading of television all around the world through various means.

Cultural Imperialism:  Where there is a guide between cultures where one culture has more power over the other one.  In the film it is seen with America having the most power in the television world and many other countries using their programs for their entertainment.

Global Media Flow: The spreading of media from place to place and making many things available worldwide.  In the film it is seen in the many countries purchasing television shows from America for a small price and using the in their own television slots.


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