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JAMCO Online International Symposium

25th JAMCO Online International Symposium

December 2016 - June 2017

The Current State and Challenges of International Broadcasting in Key Countries

Closing Remarks

Tadao Sakomizu
Executive Managing Director of the Japan Media Communication Center

The theme of this 25th JAMCO Online Symposium was “The Current State and Challenges of International Broadcasting in Key Countries.” We have heard many highly informative discussions on themes ranging from how countries in different political and economic circumstances should position the transmission of visual images to other countries to the present state and issues relating to international exchanges through visual images. Our participants from Britain, Turkey and other countries have explained the basic principles, history, strategies and so on of each country’s international activities and we have also heard frank discussions about what the challenges are.

Here, please allow me to consider the history and development of television culture from the perspectives of international transmission and its development. Let me start by talking about the case of Japan. The development of television during the years of rapid, post-war economic growth had a considerable influence on Japanese ways of life. The dissemination of television sets into Japanese homes brought with it images from other countries, notably Hollywood-style TV programs from the United States of America. The sight of American families surrounded by electrical appliances, their foods, fashions and the prevalence of cars, formed many Japanese people’s vision for the prosperous future which lay ahead for them as well. These things all became the hallmark of the United States’ soft power.

I believe we can say that the development of international television was tied closely to that of international satellite transmissions. It is well-remembered that the first ever satellite news relay from the United States to Japan in November, 1963 happened to be the report of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The global reach of these visual images became a symbolic event. Other iconic images followed from the United States in a seemingly unending flow, such as those sent back by Apollo 11 from the moon. In later years, even with the conflicted feelings which arose over such developments as the Vietnam War, we retained this optimism for the future People had basically positive expectations, as expressed in the theme of the Osaka Expo in 1970, Progress and Harmony for Mankind.

From the 1980’s on, people became ever more aware of the value of transmitting to other countries and, together with the progress of satellite and other technologies, visual images increasingly came to cross international boundaries and even gain the power to change the course of history. Television transmitted the events that reshaped the post-war order from the Tiananmen Incident to the fall of the Berlin Wall and those broadcasts led in turn to further historic changes.

Today, international broadcasting is not only about sharing news and culture but also a way for each country to deliver its views to the outside world and raise its international profile. Not only the United States but also such countries as China, South Korea and Turkey also actively spread their dramas and other entertainment programs, and tell others about their own cultures, traditions and ways of live through television programs. Simultaneously, the sale of programs has become an important source of foreign revenue and now provides an extra economic rationale. And that is not all. These days, even individuals can freely transmit visual images to the world via social media networks and platforms such as YouTube. We now live in an era when “transmission” has become a key word for all.

Today, in addition to terrorism, wars and other such challenges, we face global concerns such as global warming which threaten the very future of humanity. We live in an era of many dangers. Thinking, in these conditions, about the international deployment of each country’s broadcasting services and roles of international transmission, we can see that they must not only be performed for making our own demands and own narrow advantage. Stated extremely, broadcasters have to promote cross-cultural understanding and contribute to the peace and harmony of mankind. I have high expectations for the continuation of these discussions about television’s international development.

In closing, now that this symposium is closing, I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Takanobu Tanaka and Mr. Kenichi Yamada of the NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute, who performed such key roles in organizing and arranging this symposium, to all of the people who have presented their work and joined in the discussions, and also to all who have visited this site.

Tadao Sakomizu

Executive Managing Director of the Japan Media Communication Center

Graduated from the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (Spanish)
Former Head of Programming Division, International Planning & Broadcasting Department of NHK and Managing Director of NHK International Inc.

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