Distress Signals

By Bailey Myers & Billy Walsh

Distress Signals is a 1990 documentary directed by John Walker that brings forth the topic of American dominance in world media.  The film describes the financial impact of producing television programming in the United States compared to other countries.  Whether it be a first world country, or a third world country, the economic power to produce media in comparison to the U.S. is not close.  Due to the high costs in producing television, these countries rely upon the United States to produce media for which can be purchased proving that American media is at the citadel of all media around the world.

For a film that was made nearly twenty-five years ago, Distress Signals is still very relevant today, however, there are some factors that may not be as relevant as possible.  If the film was to be updated, the topic of the financial hardship of producing media would still be alive.  Also, the film would be able to elaborate on the growth via the ever-so-expanding internet.  Other changes would include the decline of VCRs to the rise of DVDs and streaming websites such as Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Key Terms:

Globalization – Countries from around the world watch American media.  Many different cultures all over the world compete for TV.  Due to this, program scripts must have mass appeal.

Cultural Imperialism – Entertainment is the second largest expense in the U.S.  Countries try to emulate American media when producing television programming.  Every country purchases American media for television.

Global Media Flow – American TV is subsidized for other countries so that they can afford to purchase the rights to air programming.

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