Daya Kushan Thussu’s “Mapping Global Media Flow and Contra-Flow” article primarily focuses on the US-led Western media flow as opposed to the “subaltern flow” of content from the global South to the North. Although French media is unambiguously Western, its film industry offers a unique case study of state-sponsored resistance of Americana hegemony.
In 1989, the European Union adopted the “Television Without Frontiers” Directive, intended to facilitate the integration and harmonization of the various broadcasting laws of members states. The Directive included a local content requirement that broadcasters allocate no less than fifty percent of their airtime to “European works.” Of all EU members, France implemented the most aggressive quota system, requiring that no more than 40% of films shown in France are of non-European origin, in a grand effort against “American cultural imperialism.” Further, Thussu holds that the gradual commercialization of global media flow has transformed the way producers view their audience from viewing them as citizens to consumers. In the late fifties, France’s then-Minister of Culture, André Malraux introduced a series of measures to combat just that trend, emphasizing that production and distribution of French films were not just commercial ventures but works of art fundamental to France’s cultural heritage.
This case study suggests that the lumping-together of Western media may soon become futile. US media not only dominates global media culture but also provokes reaction and resistance from non-US Western states.