European Union: Is the Media Friend or Foe?
Over the past several decades, the French, Italians, Spaniards, Germans, Austrians, Swiss, and so on have been tempted to surrender their identity to the newly formed culture, “European.” Formed in 1993, The European Union consists of 27 European countries that have agreed to abide by the same foreign and security policies, such as accepting a new currency, the Euro. The European Union mainly formed due to the extreme forces of nationalism, which had previously devastated the entire continent in World War II. In order for the union to perform successfully, a sense of unity among all countries has to be present. To create this new culture, experts thought the television was the best medium to unite people from different countries. In my opinion, the media is the result of a culture, and therefore it is difficult to create a new culture through television.
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Finally, one of the proposed methods to achieve a coherent and homogenous union was to implement national identity through television.
Eventually, the European Parliament approved the idea of controlling media throughout European countries and even set aside a budget devoted to the development of culture. Out of all forms of media, television was seen as “more influential and less nationally encumbered than print” (Kimunguyi 512). After trial and error, Euronews came about in 1993 and currently reaches 200 million households, beating out CNN and BBC. Euronews was successful because the station limited itself to only news programs. It gave its viewers a sense that there is a “European perspective” on every news story around Europe. The ‘Television without Frontiers’ Directive was another policy set in place to ensure free movement of broadcasting across Europe. It also controlled television’s content by providing diverse programming in an effort to show the commonalities between the preexisting cultures. Surprisingly, European broadcasters’ work paid off as they were successful in promoting European commonalities through the media. Television schedules showed that countries had a five percent increase in scheduling “European works” within a ten-year period. Although the “European works” plan was successful, it cannot be said that European’s design policy for the media industry can produce a European culture.
Knowing television’s strong influence on society, the European’s utilization of the media for this cause was certainly a great idea. However, it is tough to declare that television has the capability of producing European identity, especially when dealing with countries with recent histories of strong nationalistic beliefs. The article concludes that the media’s influence on Europe can’t be measured, thus implying that a culture does not originate from television. Rather, “to feel European, it does not matter what they watch on television, but what they do, with whom they engage in everyday life, and only after that, how they interpret mediated messages” (Kimunguyi 519).