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Summarize and Discuss the Tensions Apparent in Contemporary Cultural and Communications Policy Debates. Include a Case Study Analysis of a Specific Policy Statement, Which Names and Discusses the Specific Rhetorical Frameworks Informing the Author's State

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Essay title: Summarize and Discuss the Tensions Apparent in Contemporary Cultural and Communications Policy Debates. Include a Case Study Analysis of a Specific Policy Statement, Which Names and Discusses the Specific Rhetorical Frameworks Informing the Author's State

First and foremost there are several approaches to the defining what is media policy. It is defined by Garnham as ‘the study of the ways in which public authorities shape, or try to shape, the structures and practices of the media…the study of the reasons for these policies, both in the sense of the reasons given by policy makers for their policies…in the sense of the economic, social, political and cultural forces to which the explicit policy is a response? and ‘the study of the impact of these policies?which may be positive or negative. (1998:210) Mark Considine more or less sums it up by defining ‘policy as the continuing work done by groups of policy actors who use available public institutions to articulate and express the things they value?(Cited in Cunningham & Flew, 2002:51). The Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588) which was enacted to repeal the Telecommunication Act 1950 and the Broadcasting Act 1988 (Nain, 2003:107) will be the policy statement placed under scrutiny to further explore the issues concerning the regulation and governance of a communications industry particularly the television industry in Malaysia.

This essay will firstly make a distinction between state, nation and nation-state. According to Habermas, the modern state is formed by a legally constituted and highly differentiated administrative apparatus which has sole control over legal means of violence and obeys an interesting division of labour with a market society set free from economic functions (1996:281). Due to different functions between political and economic institution, the society and the state are interdependent. The word nation on the other hand ‘carries the connotations of a community shaped by common descent, culture and history, often by common language?(Habermas, 1996:282). In other words, nations is a community of people who share the same culture, customs, traditions, language staying together but is not yet ‘integrated in the political form of a state?(Habermas, 1996:282). Lastly as a whole, ‘a nation-state is a specific form of state (a political entity), which exists to provide a sovereign territory for a particular nation (a cultural entity), and which derives its legitimacy from that function?(Wikipedia, 2006).

Next, the public sphere ‘is a domain of our social life in which such a thing as public opinion can be formed?(Habermas, 1973:55). It is important to note that in principle the public sphere is accessible and open to all citizens. According to Thompson, the public sphere consisted of ‘private individuals who came together to debate amongst themselves the regulation of civil society and the conduct of the state?(1995:69) just like Habermas who believes that ‘a portion of the public sphere is constituted in every conversation in which private persons come together to form a public?(1973:55). However Thompson argues that, it is not part of the state but on the contrary ‘a sphere in which the activities of the state could be confronted and subjected to criticism?(1973:70). Most importantly, the public sphere is seen as a space which mediates the state as well as the society, ‘a sphere in which the public as the vehicle of public opinion is formed? (Habermas, 1973:56)

Up till now, the media has been discussed as a social institution rather than as an industry but it is becoming more important nowadays and it should be understood that ‘the main principles of structure and dynamics of the media calls for an economic as well as a political and a social-cultural analysis?and although ‘the media have grown up in response to the social and cultural needs of individuals and societies, they are largely run as business enterprises?(McQuail, 2000:190). It is important to know that the media is always changing but it is even more important to acknowledge that the media is right smack in the middle of economics, politics as well as technology. These forces?works are always constant and they reflect ‘a wish to make money?and ‘struggle for power in society?which the media plays an important role in these. (McQuail, 2000:192).

Moving on, I will be using the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) to discuss the tensions apparent in contemporary cultural and communications policy debates based on the specific rhetorical frameworks mentioned above as well as globalization. In the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 Clause (2)(c) of Section 3 states: ‘to grow and nurture local information resources and cultural representation that facilitate the national identity and global diversity?(Malaysian, 2006). Malaysia has come a long way, it being a post-colonial British rule country, the word ‘cultural representation?as well as ‘national identity?is highly problematic to define. By having to define them, we come back to the question of what is a state, nation and the nation-state which according to Habermas?definition, Malaysia

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