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A week ago
MTV Goes Global with a Local Beat

Some people outside the United States say teens exposed to large doses of U.S. youth culture on MTV will identify less with their own societies and teens in developing countries will want Western goods they cannot afford. MTV’s response: “It’s just fun, it’s only TV,” says one executive. What do you think? Are there dangers in broadcasting U.S.-style programs and ads to developing countries?

Digital compression technology made it possible for MTV to program over a global network. Can you think of other technological innovations that have helped companies to think globally and act locally?
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A week ago
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Some people outside the United States say teens exposed to large doses of U.S. youth culture on MTV will identify less with their own societies and teens in developing countries will want Western goods they cannot afford. MTV’s response: “It’s just fun, it’s only TV,” says one executive. What do you think? Are there dangers in broadcasting U.S.-style programs and ads to developing countries?

The debate over the impact of U.S. programming beamed to other developed and developing cultures will likely never cease. The U.S. television program The Simpsons, which depicts a rather unflattering U.S. family, is seen in more than 90 countries. Such a program is unlikely to encourage young people outside the United States to grow up to be like Homer Simpson. Generally, this program and others, such asModern Family, the The Ellen Degeneres Show, and Big Bang Theory, are watched around the world for a glimpse into the humorous or darker aspects of U.S. culture. On the other hand, local programming can lose out to the U.S. programming if it is not as entertaining.

In regard to desires among young people for more “Western” goods, this is a sensitive issue involving elements of economic development and materialism. It could be argued that it is not ethical to show U.S. programs that depict wealthy lifestyles in developing countries because they promote discontent in those markets and promote materialism. However, there are wealthy and poor people in every nation and, following this line of reasoning, one could argue that such programs should not be aired in the U.S. market either—incidentally, some groups do make this argument.

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Digital compression technology made it possible for MTV to program over a global network. Can you think of other technological innovations that have helped companies to think globally and act locally?

Internet retailers such as Amazon make online books in English available globally. However, Amazon also has online service to accommodate those in French- and Spanish-speaking countries. This is a localized approach. The French version of Amazon can further localize its selections by offering books tailored to specific Francophone regions such as Africa and Canada, not just France. Clearly, Amazon can continue to localize by selecting other languages where significant numbers of readers are.
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