Satellites over South Asia Broadcasting, Culture and the Public Interest David Page & William Crawley ISBN 984 05 1558 6 2001 460pp 215x136mm HB Tk.450.00 US$25.00
The rapid spread of satellite TV in recent years has made a huge impact on the choice of viewing available to audiences in South Asia, not just in the cities but increasingly in towns and rural areas as well. This unprecedented boom has provoked a lively debate about the implications for nations, communities and cultures. Satellite TV respects no borders and it has posed a major challenge to the nation state and to national broadcasting systems.
This extremely well-written and comprehensive book tells the fascinating story of the opening of the skies, the media companies involved, the means of distribution and the reactions of viewers to the huge and growing menu of programmes.
David Page and William Crawley show that satellite TV has been instrumental in creating a new South Asian popular culture which has proved both attractive and controversial. They explore the implications of these developments for the national broadcasting cultures of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Within India, they contrast the dominance of Hindi programmes in the north with the situation in the south, where satellite services have developed in all four major languages. They also compare reactions among India’s northern neighbours, where direct viewing of Hindi satellite programmes has drawn middle class audiences away from national TV, with those in Sri Lanka, where the existence of terrestrial competition has afforded greater national control of the process of change.
The second half of the book looks at the role of the state in the new media environment. It examines government responses to the challenge of satellite competition, efforts to evolve new regulations and the policies which continue to impede the effective decentralisation of the electronic media. The last two chapters assess where the public interest lies and outline policy issues for the future.
In writing the book, the authors have drawn on the experience and insights of a network of research associates across South Asia. The book is based on extensive field research, including over four hundred interviews, plus focus group discussions and district surveys. Constituting the first systematic study at the regional level of the impact and implications of the satellite revolution, it will be especially valuable for media analysts, students of mass media and cultural studies, journalists and media professionals, political scientists, policymakers and all those interested in the satellite revolution in South Asia.
David Page and William Crawley are co-directors of the Media South Asia Project, based at the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University, UK.