“Resisting” the Global Media
Oligopoly? The Canada Inc.
Jean Harvey and Alan Law
Allegedly in order to help prospected new viewers to follow the puck better, Fox Sports introduced the FoxTrax glow puck for its telecast of the 1996 NHL All Star game. The device was strongly criticized by most hockey fans and journalists, especially in Canada, where the initiative has been widely perceived as yet another American cultural imperialist invasion of Canada's game.1 This American “innovation” by one of the global media conglomerates is one of many signs of the ongoing clash between American-inspired global mass sport culture versus national traditions. One of the major battlefields where the future of national mass sport culture is being fought is undoubtedly at the infra-structural level. Indeed, the current consolidation and concentration of the global media oligopoly and the increasing inclusion of sport in it (see Law et al., 2002), has profound implications for all national mass media landscapes and the mass mediatization of sport culture. These implications have a tremendous impact, as national telecommunication industries become linked increasingly with the global mass media oligopoly through cross-ownership and joint ventures.
This chapter discusses the tension between the emerging commodified global sport mass culture, the development of which is fueled by the global media oligopoly. Through the Canadian example this chapter will address the issue of so-called national “resistance” to the global media oligopoly. The “resistance” we wish to focus on is not about the creation of grass roots based alternatives to commodified sport culture, neither a “re-appropriation” of dominant cultural forms. Rather, we wish to document how, in order to “protect” Canadian culture and identity, Canadian telecommunication corporations reacted to the emergence of the global media conglomerates in ways that modified substantially traditional regulation policy, thus facilitating replication of the global model of competition