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Viewing Beyond Boundaries

Sabeena Gadihoke

By Amos Owen Thomas
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 289, Rs. 380.00


While quantitative research has been rightly critiqued for not being able to adequately address issues within social science research, one of the major problems facing those engaged in cultural studies especially around the media industry is access to facts and descriptive work. Available through market research and surveys, this information is often confidential, for the exclusive use of insiders in the industry. Seen against this backdrop, Imagi-Nations and Borderless Television by International Business scholar Amos Owen Thomas that uses a comprehensive descriptive and factual terrain to look at the phenomenon and spread of transnational television in Asia and some of its convergent cultures with scholarly rigour is a significant book for students and media researchers.   The great value of this book is its attention to detail and factual information about what Thomas terms “border-less television” or broadcasting through satellite footprints that are not limited to specific national and geographic terrains. It is also a welcome addition to scholarly work that has moved away from a market and economy driven discourse around globalization to one that views it within the context of multiple cultural flows. Laying out a history of satellite channels and tracing their origins, ownership and reach, Thomas examines the media scenario in three parts of Asia: South Asia (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives), South East Asia (Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei) and North-East Asia (China, Japan, North and South Korea, Mongolia, Hong-Kong, Macau and Taiwan). He also makes a passing reference to television channels and satellites in the Middle East giving us insights into channels like Al Jazeera that shot into prominence during the second Gulf war. In a methodical (and rather self consciously) textbook like manner Thomas lays out the information, placing it against the backdrop of schools of communication, development models and theories on globalization. He adopts a quasi-ethnographic methodology that involves interviews with those engaged in media industries, viewing software and secondary local data.   Satellite broadcasting that came to Asia in its present form in the early and mid-nineties has been the scrutiny of earlier work. For instance among the more recent books to look at this scenario in Asia was Page and Crawley’s Satellites over South Asia: Broadcasting Culture and the Public Interest (Sage, 2001), Dealing with a very vast terrain, the book suffered from an inability to engage with the specificities and complexities of media culture in ...

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