Protecting Local Culture in a Global Environment: The Case of Israel's Broadcast Media

Yaron Katz


The research examines the tensions in Israeli broadcasting between the commitment to local culture and the counter-pressures stemming from commercial competition, new technology, and global markets. It looks at the changes in public broadcasting as part of a universal process, one in which the global spread of culture has made its impact beyond commercialization, thus expanding the limits and effects of culture from a local level into a process where cultural experiences and meanings can be seen as global versions. This course of change in perception is particularly relevant to the role of broadcasting in Israel, where, initially, a British-inspired model of public broadcasting monopoly was developed, serving the goals of nation-building and emphasizing the role of the government in building a communications system that could best serve a new society and protect its local culture. The paper discusses the implications of the introduction of commercial competition many years later, implications which represent the continuation of public control alongside the adoption of new technologies, especially cable and satellite, and their institutionalization. This process can be described as an attempt to navigate the global marketplace, as the country is constantly debating the need to protect local culture in a competitive, highly advanced, and global media market. Despite the dominance of public broadcasting, the multi-channel environment is different in many ways from the traditional broadcasting sector, and new technologies, globalization, and global culture are dominating.

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