Cultural Proximity On the Air
in Ecuador: National, Regional
Television Outperforms Imported
U. S. Programming
Linda Lee Davis
University of Kansas
Ecuador exports hats, oil, and bananas, but when it comes to television programming, Ecuador imports—about twice as much it produces. When UNESCO sponsored studies of worldwide sources programming in the 1970s and 1980s, Ecuador, New Zealand, and Iceland topped the list for importing largest percentage of television programming. In 1983, 66% of Ecuadorian television came from outside the country (Varis, 1984, p. 146). This 1995 case study of a successful Ecuadorian network, Ecuavisa, confirms the same high level of imported programming 12 years later. Predictably, the United States leads list of programming sources, as it does in so many countries around the world (Varis, 1984, p. 150).
During the 1970s, a debate about role of U. S. television abroad began within the United Nations. Third World officials and some scholars, beginning with Herbert Schiller, took the view that dominance of U. S. programming in developing nations constituted media-delivered “cultural imperialism, ” which should be restricted.1 The international debate took place under various related theory areas:“… dependence as related to imported media, media imperialism, international media____________________