Week 6: Television and the emergence of new ‘media capitals’

A media capital is a place where things come together and new mass culture emerges, is a site of mediation where complex forces and flows interact, a place that produces media universally and becomes the centre for the financing, production and distribution for television programs.


Knowing this, you would automatically think of Hollywood and indeed that is the largest media capital in the Western world but this wasn’t always the case. The US city of Chicago was once leading the media industry in the early 20th century as it offered many advantages from being a major regional centre for manufacturing (transport), transportation (rail), communication (telegraph) and it also had a substantial immigration population. Chicago helped facilitate relationships between rural and urban, local and regional, domestic and international contexts and it was where they all came together as a mass American market. During the early TV era of the late 1950’s, attention turned to Hollywood as Hollywood film producers supposedly helped contain costs and retain control of the industry, there was an existing pool of cinema stars residing there, it possessed more vivid scenery and more stable weather which was better for production back drops and quickened the shooting process and overall the city grew economically and population increased (Curtin 2003).


Curtin (2003) attributes changing patterns in TV to the growth of transnational media conglomerates, the proliferation of new media vehicles (cable, satellite, and the internet), the re-regulation of electronic media and the emergence of new production arrangements. Along with these changes in management and advances in technology, the subject matter and target audience for media also changed with programs now being organised according to niche demographics and consumption patterns. Hollywood has increasing competitors who produce pieces for more specific markets using localised labour, materials and perspectives e.g. Nollywood which is quite self-contained in production, distribution and audience. Hollywood status as a global media capital remains but the conditions of its dominance now have changed, especially with Hong Kong, an emerging media capital which has so far proven to be viable.


Hong Kong was the trading point of goods and services between Europe and Guangdong Province as World War II, the Chinese Civil War and periods of economic reversal brought people to Hong Kong (Khorana 2012). These events forced people to remain and begin working, starting businesses and raising families and it began to prosper as a place of international trade, investment, and banking. “The city’s emergence as a media capital must, furthermore, take into account the influences exerted by migrations of cultural institutions and creative talent” (Curtin 2003).


Curtin, M (2003) ‘Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flows’ International Journal of Cultural Studies Vol 6: 2, pp. 202 – 228


Khorana, S (2012) ‘Orientalising the new media capitals: The Age of Indian TV’s Hysteria’ Media International Australia Vol 145, pp. 39 – 49


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