|Ameesha Joshi invited you to With This Ring‘s event|
Posts Tagged With: Documentaries
True heroes of Africa often lie in unmarked graves. Their achievements are only celebrated by a minority of dissidents who are sparsely located around the continent and throughout its diaspora. Stifled by the fabricated feats of the African neo-colonialist aristocracy, the legacy left by our unsung heroes is more endangered than the mountain gorilla.
The African press expediently exhumes their contributions during national holidays, only to bury them again once the celebrations are over. The global media is fixated on despots and warlords. The recent sensation about Joseph Kony should be a lesson to all Africans that if we don’t select the narratives that we would like to universalize, someone else will. And we won’t like it. Continue reading
HOT DOCS DAILY FOR WEDNESDAY, MAY 4
New $1-Million Production Fund for African Filmmakers Announced!
At this morning’s opening of the Hot Docs Forum, it was announced that Hot Docs and Blue Ice Film have partnered to establish the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Film Documentary Fund. The $1-million production fund will provide financial support to independent documentary filmmakers based in developing African countries, with the goal of increasing the quality and quantity of social, cultural and political documentaries produced in the region. Generously established by Toronto-based Blue Ice Film, the Fund will be administered by Hot Docs and disbursements will be made over the next five years.
* Distribution deals recently announced for Hot Docs official selections
* Updated top 20 films in the running for People’s Choice Award
* Videos and photo slideshows featuring directors of YOU’VE BEEN TRUMPED, BUCK, HELL AND BACK AGAIN and more
* Links to latest film reviews and media coverage
* All the Festival buzz on Twitter
* Daily screening and industry schedules
* Hot Picks for tonight
This email was sent by Hot Docs Documentary Festival
110 Spadina Avenue, Suite 333 Toronto, ON, M5V 2K4, Canada
True Love or Marriage Fraud? – New Documentary Shines Light on Marital Immigration Fraud, its Victims and the Government that puts up with it
November 08, 2010 @ 09:15AM
What’s the dirty little secret about spousal immigration sponsorships in Canada? Many Canadians are being duped into marriage, not for love, but for residency. The real kicker is, even if the fraud is discovered, the fraudsters are not deported from Canada — and the victims are financially responsible for them for three years! These are the startling facts introduced in True Love or Marriage Fraud? The Price of Heartache which airs Monday, November 15, 10pmET / 7&10pmPT on CBC News Network’s The Passionate Eye http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/passionateeyeshowcase/2010/truelove/
Canada is, in fact, the easiest place among all developed countries in which to commit marriage fraud — and with few, if any, repercussions. Fraudsters who can’t get into Canada through regular channels are finding unsuspecting Canadians, to marry and then dump, and then sponsor their own family — even secret spouses and children— over to Canada afterward.
Lainie, of Ottawa, is seen wearing a wedding dress with a door strapped to her back, to symbolize she’s been used by her husband as a doorway into Canada. Her voice is tinged with anger and betrayal as she speaks to the judge in the real-life scenes from her husband’s removal hearing. Akra admits he has no intention of going back to Guinea despite being found inadmissible to Canada. The reality is it is near impossible to get a permanent resident out of the country. “The easiest way to become a permanent resident in this country is to get married. As soon as you step into the country you are granted permanent residency status. There’s no other country that grants this,” says Lainie.
Some cases are extreme. Abdollah’s wife secretly moved to Canada without telling him. Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency told Abdollah that it happens a lot in Canada. “They asked me to go and basically live my life.” Abdollah is financially responsible for his wife for three years of her life in Canada, no matter what.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says in the film that if the government removes the financial obligation of sponsors, he fears there will be more false marriages than now, only with Canadian taxpayer stuck with the bill.
“Marriage fraud victims are too heavily penalized for falling in love,” says director Julia Ivanova, a Russian-born immigrant in Canada.
Is it possible to see the truth before a sponsored spouse moves to Canada? The film takes the audience to the narrow streets of Medina in Marrakesh, Morocco, to witness the flourishing love stories of Roxanne and Abdel and of Stephanie and Abderrahim. Both women know the risks but they are clearly lovestruck and willing to take a leap of faith.
The federal government is currently consulting the public on the topic of marriage fraud also known as a marriage of convenience (www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/protection/fraud/marriage.asp) but there is no word yet when any solutions will be presented.
True Love or Marriage Fraud? The Price of Heartache was developed by Interfilm Productions, produced by Heartache Productions in association with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Knowledge Network, and with the support of Canada Media Fund, Rogers Cable Network Fund, the Canadian Film and Video Production Tax Credits, and Film Incentive BC.
About Interfilm Productions:
Interfilm Productions is a Vancouver based documentary production company that focuses on combining entertainment and intelligence in high definition. Documentaries to date include “From Russia, For Love” on adoption, “Fatherhood Dreams” on gay parenting, and “Love Translated” on dating tours to Eastern Europe.
I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can’t stop eating peanuts. – Orson Welles, New York Herald Tribune, Oct. 12, 1956
On the whole, people on the Montreal streets seem to agree with Orson Welles. Many felt that TV was “crap,” that it was “fake” and one person even tried to stay away from it. Despite this, there are still millions of people watching all over the world, or the TV stations would be out of business. WETV is one these businesses who are trying to profit from those who do watch TV. It is global and Canadian at the same time. WETV is trying to give a new meaning to television. This report accompanies a 17-minute documentary WETV. WETV’s alternative position, programming and position on cultural imperialism, and future will be discussed.
In many ways, WETV (1) is not like the main players Robert McChesney and Edward S. Herman write about in “main Players in the Global Media System.” Right from its beginning, it has had a different quality to it that Time Warner, Disney, Bertelsmann, Viacom, and News Corporation. WETV is a global satellite (2) alternative network. But what does WETV mean by alternative?
WETV prides itself on being a hybrid of many mainstream stations such as TVO, CNN, CBC, TV Quebec, etc. Charles Morrow (3), the direction of communications for WETV, says that their programming is not trying to challenge the mainstream. One way at looking at an alternative is that it does challenge the mainstream, such as video magazine Channel Zero, based in Toronto.
WETV can be looked at as an alternative in terms of the audience it is trying to attract. It does claim a particular interest in women, youth, the environment and sustainable development, and cultural diversity. One of the reasons for their intent could be:
Demographics indicate that up to 45 percent of southern populations are below the age of 20 representing an emerging market of consumers, while the majority of the northern population is above the age of 35, facing mid-life review, and have become more interested in television programming on more serious subjects such as the environment, voluntarism, world affairs and lifestyles (Anon 9).
Although WETV may be an alternative in terms of its focus and audience interests, its motivation comes from majority demographics, a very mainstream way of looking at television. One of the things Rupert Murdoch is trying to do is grab the male audience by producing sports programs. WETV is just going after a different kind of audience. WETV can be looked at as an alternative based on its financial structure. It has five sources of revenue: advertising, airtime sales, public and corporate sponsorship, and subscriber fees and DBS and cable subscription. In terms of advertising, it carries six minutes per hour. WETV’s aim lies in its alternative business structure:
The more the product is tied neither to government funding, or the cost per thousand demands of advertising, the more opportunity there is to develop new programming in a flex of broader interests and perceptions that reflect the essential values espoused by public service systems. That is the aim of WETV (Nostbakken 14).
David Nostbakken, the current president of the WETV Network Corporation, was director of communication at the International Development Research Centre (a crown corporation set up to fund developing world research) in 1993 when in a reorganization he was downsized out of his position. He had long thought that commercial television was exploiting weaker cultures and convinced the board of directors of the IDRC to fund a one-year study of the impact of television on developing countries. Approved in March 1993, this was for $1 million. A test of his theories was implemented for the September 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference, at which the IDRC secretariat, which had taken on the name WETV, set up a satellite network and delivered programming to about 30 stations around the world from Beijing. Subsequently, IDRC provided an additional $915,000 to support the project, and finally $200,000 in February 1996, when the board agreed that WETV could set up a two-pronged corporate structure, a foundation, registered in Canada, and a profit-making operating company. IDRC has one seat on the 12-member board of the foundation, to protect its interests.
IDRC’s motivation to fund WETV was that the centre had long been concerned with the dissemination of research results and had done some work in training and support to journalists. It also had funded a number of developmental television shows hosted by Hon. Flora MacDonald, former Conservative Minister of External Affairs, and then chairperson of the IDRC board of directors. There was a history of funding television-related projects.
The funding of WETV from IDRC was essential to establish it as a visible institution, and Dr. Nostbakken was always under pressure to find other funding, either from other donors, advertisers, or sponsors. During the initial two-year period, some small amounts of funding were received from UN organizations and from a few European bilateral donors.
A long dialogue was undertaken with CIDA, starting in 1994, by Charles Morrow, whom Nostbakken had hired as a consultant after he retired from CIDA. Knowing CIDA, Morrow created a proposal that responded to a number of CIDA’s program priorities in the areas of sustainable development, for example. He pitched that WETV programming would contribute to a better understanding of the environment, respect for human rights and cultural diversity.
The goal was to “support the actions of governments, international agencies, communities, and individuals in achieving sustainable development, and promote freer culture expression, especially in developing countries,” says Charles Morrow. The short-term purpose was to establish an alternative global access television network linking TV station in north and south as a broad partnership of public and private interests. The outputs including producing 598 hours of educative and informative programming over the period of 18 months of a project of $1.7 million. This proposal was put to the NGO division of Partnership Branch in March 1996. There was considerable ambivalence in CIDA about this as it has no policy with regard to social communication and television. As the current Minister for CIDA, Diane Marleau, remarked to WETV officers during a discussion in October 1997, “CIDA is not in the television business.”
The project did not fit within established priorities, it was sent to the minister, Hon. Pierre Pettigrew in June 1996. Some discreet behind the scenes lobbying was done by WETV and its friend in Ottawa with the result that he gave a green light and the projects were approved in August 1996. Because of its size and fact that it was known within government circles that WETV had had to appeal several times to the IDRC board for additional funding, there was some skepticism within CIDA about the venture. In particular, CIDA was uneasy with WETV’s business plan which claimed that it would rapidly become self-sufficient of government grants on the strength of private sector investments, advertising, and sponsorships. (Also, WETV looked to UN agencies and government aid departments to “buy” time in large blocks, to show their own programming). To date, CIDA has paid out three-quarters of the amount of the agreement, waiting for other governments or private-sector donors to come in. WETV is currently working with a group of US investors in socially responsible corporations, as well as a number of European governments.
WETV is an alternative in its business plan and operating structure, it is also an alternative to the dominant American version of the international news. Nostbakken refers to the Canadian Broadcasting Act to form his vision for WETV. The Act recognizes respect for minorities, diversity of perspectives, women’s views, children’s views, and an array of religious views that point to the plurality of our society. Nostbakken is using a Canadian model as a basis for his vision of global broadcasting. But the question arises; doesn’t CNN International reflect diversity too? What is different about the diversity that WETV represents?
The Canadian perspective is often seen as a less biased perspective than the Americans. Dennis Murphy, in Concordia administration, notes an interesting example in terms of the coverage of the recent visit of the Pope to Cuba. He was watching Canadian news and it was pointed out that the Pope made a joke during his speech after people applauded. The pope said that it was good that people applauded because it gave him time to rest (the Pope was not feeling well). Fidel Castro, the leader of Cuba, laughed at the Pope’s remark. In an American broadcaster’s news coverage of this event, the reporter simply said that Fidel Castro was laughing at the Pope, without explaining why. Also, whereas the Canadian coverage showed Castro addressing Cubans and the reporter made a little comment on Castro, the American reporter showed the same image but commented that Castro was getting old and looked tired. The American reporter also did not highlight a Cuban’s comment on the American embargo, which the Canadian reporter did. This exemplifies the type of bias that is possible with American journalism.
WETV may also be better received by those in the third world because as a Canadian-based operation, it does have the legacy of neo-colonialism, or colonialism like the American, British and French broadcasters do.
WETV is an alternative in many ways, but one may ask what kind of an alternative? Focusing on human rights, cultural diversity, the environment, and sustainable development are the kinds of things, not every social class has time to think about. What about the child labourer in India? Will WETV give him or her what she needs?
WETV continues to try to be an alternative as a network based on partners. It is owned and operated by two companies, WETV Network Inc., for-profit share (4) capital company and WETV Foundation, a not-for-profit company that deals with public sector agencies, donor agencies, foundations and the UN system. “We believe in participatory communication and we believe in bringing in many partners as we can so WETV can be an inclusive organization, open to as many voices and as much diversity as we can make possible,” said Charles Morrow in an interview November 6, 1997. Nostbakken talks in the video about the producers of WETV being from all over the world. But ultimately one must question, who is the main decision-maker? The answer is that those stationed in Canada are.
WETV has broadcast affiliates like network television. However, it is also modeled on specialty television in terms of its business structure, standards of production, program schedule, niche marketing and advertiser support. Access to developing countries is provided through the program schedule so that developing countries can tell their stories in their own way through their own independent producers. WETV has 37 broadcast partners in 30 countries. Among them are the St. Vincent Broadcasting Corporation, Uganda TV, Vision TV and Television Northern Canada, and Radio Television Malaysia. The first phase of recipients of WETV programming was concentrated in Latin America, the Caribbean, and English-speaking Africa. Bruce Paddington, the executive producer, notes the potential problems of having partnerships with government broadcasters, which most of WETV programming is partnered with. Sometimes these broadcasters are elitist and do not serve the interests of the country. However, in a country like Uganda, Uganda TV is the only television station that reaches outside of Kampala, and this broadcaster ensures that not only an urban viewing audience will see WETV. WETV has a contract with the broadcasting affiliates so their programming is aired during normal viewing hours. They provide program descriptors so the programs will air to the target audiences.
WETV has also created a partnership through the UN-based Inter-Agency Committee which focuses on beneficial ways for UN agencies to participate and benefit from WETV.
How is WETV an alternative, using a very mainstream medium? TV broadcasting tends to be quite mainstream unless it is used in a “guerilla” style. WETV concentrates on television rather than emerging technologies such as the Internet to get their message across…why?
Television has a greater global penetration than telephones. Audiences in developing countries watch the most daily television. Of 24 countries where daily television viewing exceeds three hours, 60 percent are from developing countries. The distribution of television equipment in certain developing areas (Asia, Central and South America and Eastern Europe) is experiencing such dramatic growth rates that they are approaching the worldwide average per household. The American continent remains an area of marked underdevelopment, with no significant signs of even relative growth (Anon, 9).
Nostbakken (5) says that about 1 percent of the world is hooked up to the Internet. In the conclusions reached from the research in WETV’s business strategy, “television has inherent properties that make it the best medium for transmitting messages that enfranchize southern cultures and educate youthful audiences in preparation for the 21st century (Anon, 10).WETV is using television, as well as the Internet, in an attempt to inform, educate and entertain people. WETV worked with Apple computers for the Habitat II Conference. Recently, it is working with Global Exchange inc., an American Internet service and software provider. They have created a website on sustainable development (www.sustainabledevelopment.com). “The argument that information and communication technologies will democratize societies ignores the fact that people, not microchips determine social change” (www.wetv.com – Oct. 21, 1997). WETV is using television and the Internet in different ways than the main players like News Corporation. But why not radio as a medium, it’s less expensive, and it is prevalent throughout the world?
Despite WETV’s effort to use television and the Internet in positive ways, there are still many negative aspects to this technology (6). This is noted on WETV’s website. The following comes from a section on the website entitled “Does the information highway go south?” from conference proceedings at Tampere, Finland, September 1994:
Many countries in the developing world still lack the most basic forms of communications infrastructure. There are enormous gaps between the technologically advanced, industrialized societies of the world and the developing nations in the availability of communications services. Of all the gaps that exist between the south and north, none is growing faster than the information gap, and the information highway threatens to increase the growth rate to the point where some countries and some segments of society in both the south and north may be left out altogether (www.wetv.com – Oct. 21, 1994).
Ashok Khosla, chairman of Development Alternatives, from India, points out that the information and economic structures that exist fail to serve more than two billion people who are marginalized in the developing world (www.wetv.com – Oct. 21, 1997). He also says information technology brings many good things, but it also brings “commercials and American soap operas that encourage the formation of habits that are not sustainable” (www.wetv.com – Oct. 21, 1997). A man who made a comment at the Robert McChesney lecture on December 4, 1997, at the University of Montreal supports Khosla’s idea. He spoke of TV in eastern India. In a town where there’s a satellite dish powered by solar energy, the man asked a villager what he thought of TV? The villager said, “We thought it would teach us a lot, but all it does is show us what we can’t buy.” WETV does have six minutes of advertising an hour, and it must make sure that this advertising does not detract from the message in this programming. However, the way it is structured, it is not completely dependent on advertising. The programming also contains many public service announcements for organizations such as the World Wildlife Foundation. “As Nicholas Johnson of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission once said, ‘all TV is educational TV. The only question is what it is teaching,” (Nostbakken 3). WETV programming is trying to teach and entertain about the empowerment of women and youth, the environment and sustainable development, and cultural diversity. Also, one may ask, does a box reflect the world diversity? There is a lot of subjectivity that goes into pointing of the camera lens. Nostbakken talks about the basic rules of TV in the vide, does the medium dominate the content, or does the content dominate the medium, or is their an equal partnership? Nostbakken’s idea of TV giving voice is a tricky one. There are still certain criteria of elements that make up basic rules of TV’s content. How does WETV challenge this criterion? How well does it live up to its ideal of participation and partnership? In the video, some people said that mainstream television doesn’t reflect the world’s diversity. Perhaps discussing WETV’s programming could explain if it is any different.
WETV has two kinds of programs, Mosaic and Cornerstone. Mosaic programs are from the international partners, such as UNESCO and UNICEF who buy airtime to run their programs. The programs deal mostly with sustainable development. Cornerstone programs are like “Tapestry,” which focus on culture and entertainment.
There are series currently running on WETV, they are “Tapestry,” “Voices and visions” and “Living Together.” “Tapestry” is about culture, art, music and creative expression across the globe. “Series episodes range from world music to artist profiles, to dance and drama” (www.wetv.com – Oct. 21, 1997). “Voices and Visions” is a series about gender issues. “Through ‘Voices and Visions,’ WETV will feature profiles of women who have overcome the odds, women who are still facing the challenges, and the need to keep up the fight” (www.wetv.com – Oct. 21, 1997). “Living Together” explores a range of topics, from the environment to new technologies, and from human rights to profiles on achievers. In an interview with Charles Morrow November 6, 1997, he describes the programming this way:
It’s a youthful look; it’s a bright in your face look too if you wish. We’re broadly educational, but we’re also entertaining. If you look at our programming you’ll see that we have documentary programming on the issues of the environment, child labour, land mines, pretty weighty stuff. But on the other end of the spectrum we are trying to provide programming which is culturally diverse, and in the popular culture area we are trying to find programming from the south that would travel well right around the world and there’s a great opportunity to do that. We can see the resurgence of forms of world music…it seems to us there is a major demand for that sort of thing both in the south and in the north. So young, youthful, in your face, broadly educational, but also entertaining and interesting.
WETV’s programming does sound diverse, it even looks diverse as the video shows. Now that WETV and its alternative structure and programming have been discussed, the ultimate question is – does WETV, being a broadcaster from the north, promote cultural imperialism? “Cultural imperialism is essentially about the exalting and spreading of values and habits – a practice in which economic power plays an instrumental role” (Tomlinson 3). The cultural imperialism thesis states that local culture in many parts of the world, which is traditional and authentic, is diminishing because of “the indiscriminate dumping of large quantities of slick commercial and media products, mainly from the United States” (Tomlinson 8). In a 1996 study for the First World Forum on Television by the UN concluded that 83 percent of programmes imported by a sample of countries studied were from the U.S. “Baywatch” is the most widely distributed show (Anon, 10). For Tomlinson, he notes that some theorists translate cultural imperialism into media imperialism. Media imperialism is a way of discussing cultural imperialism, it is a form of cultural domination.
The headquarters of WETV is in Ottawa, but most of the programming will be commissioned from southern producers. They have an office in Montevideo, Uruguay and will be establishing regional offices through the third world. The board of directors of the foundation, which oversees editorial policy, has members from Mexico, India, Thailand, etc. Part of its job is to scrutinize programming to see that the editors live up to the mission statement. The foundation board will have an advisory committee called the Standards and Practices Advisory Committee that will address such questions on a day-to-day basis. It will be made up of representatives of public service funders of the network, such as CIDA, plus a number of specialists from developing countries, serving in their own capacity.
A large program of WETV will be in dealing with cultural issues, such as the portrayal of women. For instance, WETV foresees that a program director of a television partner in say, the Malaysian public broadcaster, might have problems with the content of a soap opera sources in Brazil. WETV would warn such broadcasters in advance. As they are just beginning to produce entertainment programming, such as extended music videos, and since the material is delivered mainly on videotape, no actual complaints have been received. However, WETV does know some stations have decided not to run certain programs because of these factors. Once they go into full satellite distribution, this may become more of a problem. WETV sees more of a problem with cultural issues rather than cultural imperialism.
The president of WETV, David Nostbakken acknowledges the domination of northern and western media in the world. He also recognizes its impact on southern and eastern countries. Nostbakken says:
Already the globalization of news seems to be overpowering local issues, threatening to leave populations unaware of their own national affairs. With the advent of a global information highway, western products, values, tastes, and attitudes in a word, the culture will reach more people in more ways. Will the highway pave over distinct nations, unique cultures, histories, tradition, and languages? Or, with hundreds of channels available to the world audience, will we hear the voices of those members of society who have long been marginalized (www.wetv.com – Oct. 21, 1997).
This is the fundamental question of the information passed in this technology. The structure of television is such that it weeds certain people out. It is the media savvy that is given voice on TV. Those who know how to project themselves on TV. Even when streets are done, the producer still has the decision to edit out those images and voices that just do not “shine” on TV. There is an imbalance of a more media literate society in the north, compared to the south. Nostbakken refers to media imperialism more specifically as electronic colonialism at the Global Knowledge 97 conference:
In culture terms, the new electronic media will not on their own reflect a diversity of the world. In the broadcast media, television in particular; a form of northern industrialized ‘electronic colonialism’ has emerged, owing to the successful enterprise of the north, and the lagging enterprise in the south (www.wetv.com – Oct. 21, 1997).
Electronic colonialism is about people not being able to express themselves. Nostbakken says that we will be in trouble without this expression. But, perhaps this type of colonialism as Nostbakken calls it, is inherent to the very nature of television. For example, can one remember the last time they heard a stuttered on television? How will WETV, in its efforts to provide entertainment, as well as education, be much different than the kind of television aesthetics that currently exist?
Many aspects that Tomlinson brings up in the discourse of cultural imperialism can be compared to WETV to discover whether it is encouraging cultural imperialism in its programming. Tomlinson talks about who speaks, and this issue also comes up in looking at WETV. Tomlinson notes that “according to UNESCO estimates, ‘more than two-thirds of printed materials are produced in English, Russian, Spanish, German and French” (Tomlinson, 11). WETV broadcasts in English, Spanish and Portuguese – on the surface, with the exception of the broadcasting in Portuguese, it would seem WETV is part of linguistic imperialism. Yet, in examples such as the “Little Jane Story” in Taiwan from the Five Minute Project shown in the video documentary, other languages are spoken on WETV. Also with their partnerships with government broadcasters, this ensures that WETV is producing in more than just the dominant languages. For example, Uganda TV is one of the few broadcasters in the country that is committed to airing most of the tribal languages. The Five Minute Project is also an example of how WETV is dealing with the technically aware. They worked with women who already knew something about TV and had produced things before. Will WETV really be about sustainable development? Giving voice to the truly voiceless?
Tomlinson also discusses that “capitalism is a homogenizing cultural force” (Tomlinson, 26). Everything looks the same. In some ways, WETV is not promoting this. For example, the story from Uganda for the Five Minute Project looked very much like Ugandan television, and quite distinct from something that was from the Netherlands, called Zap Mama (a portion of Zap Mama was included in the video documentary). But WETV, on the other hand, is also contributing to a homogenizing television aesthetic in their training of television. The north training the south about TV is teaching the south how to become more like the north, how to create television that looks more like the north.
Other sources can be used to measure whether WETV is promoting cultural imperialism. Dave Laing in “The music industry and the ‘cultural imperialism’ thesis” talks about how the most discussion about cultural imperialism centers around the audio-visual media, film, and television. He introduces music as an issue to look at cultural imperialism. WETV’s show “Tapestry” is a world music video show that defies the kind of cultural imperialism Laing writes about. Yet, WETV is still responsible for the selection of music videos, and it is coming from a northern point of view.
For the future, Nostbakken questions what will happen in the 500-channel universe that is emerging with digital compression and fibre optic cable. He poses that since nearly all of the international information media are owned by westerners, “is it not their ideology that the information highway will be transporting?” (www.wetv.com – Oct. 21, 1997). WETV will be an alternative to the type of broadcasting that will be promoting western ideology. WETV has big plans for its future.
WETV plans to switch to Direct Broadcast Satellite systems when their programming reaches above four hours a day. WETV plans to be in over 100 countries in five years – they currently have a five-year contract with the affiliates. It plans to have a viewing audience of 6 million in its first year, 60 million in its third year, and 120 million by its fifth year.
WETV also plans to do more with the Internet. They plan to use it to get feedback from their programs. As well, their alliances with regional NGOs will be used to conduct audience and distribution research for those who are not wired to the web.
In terms of programming, there are five additional series expected in 1998. “Welcome to the Global Village” is a magazine show about important issues of the day from the point of view of people who work and live in various regions all over the world. “Living Green” is about the issues and people involved in sustainable development. “WorldBeat” is about popular music and culture from all regions. It will be music videos and live performances of starts, popular in their own countries, but not necessarily known to a wider audience. “Window on the World” “highlights the similarities children share with others around the globe while celebrating their differences. WOW! Gives special emphasis to programming from developing countries, providing exposure to children in lesser known parts of the planet” (www.wetv.com – Oct. 21, 1997). “Lifelong Learning” is a show in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning. It is a distance-learning program. The information available is targeted towards women and youth, such as agriculture, health, literacy and life skills. WETV plans to have four special events each year that they will broadcast. “The special events are designed to support important world conferences on the environment, food, and agriculture, women and children, habitation, forestation, health, human rights – the issues of sustainable development” (Anon, 11).
Will profit win out with WETV and affect their programming? CBC started with educational programming such as “Live and Learn” in the 1950s and 1960s. These programs are now gone and there seems to be more of a focus on entertainment than education, such as coverage of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Will WETV have this great idealistic vision that financial concerns will cloud over?
WETV is currently distributing one hour per week, in English and Spanish. Once about $10 million in additional investment and public sector grants are received, WETV will be able to move to one hour a day. At this point, it will be possible to sell advertising to socially responsible advertisers and attract sponsorships (PBS billboard type) from both commercial advertisers and public-sector organization, like the Red Cross. It will be interesting to see how WETV’s alternative business structure holds up in the future.
WETV is trying to be a different kind of broadcaster, and it is too soon to tell if it has succeeded. It has good intentions, but even hell is filled with good intentions.