Remote Negotiations: International Broadcasting as Bargaining in the Information Age

William Lafi Youmans, Shawn Powers


International broadcasting refers to state media aimed at foreign publics. Scholarship on this topic lacks theoretical frameworks, particularly in light of structural changes in international communication, technological diffusion, and media complexity. Scholars consider the classic one-way propaganda model obsolete, and a new paradigm is needed. Many propose “dialogue” as the basis for effective state communication. Such a conception is not only misleading but unlikely given real political constraints. It neglects the complicated multi-stakeholder politics of communication between governments and other publics. This article adapts the two-level game metaphor of international bargaining developed by Robert Putnam (1988) to analyze state informational activities in a more complex media age. The proposed approach identifies the different stakeholders involved in sending and receiving information via international broadcasting. Broadcasting in the information age is better analogized as bargaining between domestic policy makers, mobilized issue publics, foreign governments, and target opinion leaders and groups in receiving states.

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