Global Media Capital and Local Media Policy

Michael Curtin

Since the early part of the twentieth century, three cities have served as the creative and operational centers of the international media economy. During the 1920s, Hollywood assumed its leadership of the film industry, followed 30 years later by its global prominence in the television trade. Today, its companies remain the leading providers of screen programming for theatrical, satellite, cable, and broadcast media worldwide. Similarly, New York and London have long prevailed as pre-eminent centers of news, publishing, advertising, and financial information. They furthermore serve as headquarters to the world’s wealthiest media conglomerates and while traveling the globe, one commonly encounters their voluminous cultural output, from Batman to Mickey Mouse, from BBC to CNN, and from Nike ads to the Financial Times. Consequently, the political economy of international media has tended to focus on the power and influence of media institutions located in New York, London, and Los Angeles.

Yet throughout the history of modern media, other centers have vied for the attention of audiences as well. Shanghai was, for example, a bustling center of Chinese film production in the 1920s, Bombay became home to several successful movie studios during the 1930s, and Cairo served as the leading producer of Arab cinema for much of the twentieth century. The number of movies produced in these cities and the profits they garnered were modest ...

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