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U.S. of May

Time June 2nd, 2009 in College Study Abroad | 2 Comments by

One thing that I have noticed while experiencing the wonders of our native cousin’s land is of course their media influences. The UKs biggest and most influential media outlet is the BBC, focusing on mainly radio and televised programming. Unlike the US the BBC is subsidised by the British tax payer in the form of TV licensing, therefore this provides the financial security to develop some truly inspirational shows such as planet earth without the fear of it not attracting major audiences. This also goes for the BBC radio stations, meaning less advertising and more music or discussion. The British I have found are quite fond of discussion which combined with their unique sense of odd humour explains for the various radio stations the BBC has to offer. Not only this but the BBC also has various ethnic stations to cater for the cultural differences of the UK which like the US has been due to the cause of immigration for economic stability.

Due to the impact of being a relatively small nation whose main media outlet is half owned by the public results in national icons with long-standing history being almost completely unknown to the outsider i.e. Bruce Forsyth. The British also have a large amount of American programmes available via digital television or sky which is the U.S. equivalent to Cable. To me being a fellow American studying in Wales, these shows are awfully dated, many seasons behind and almost constantly repeated, yet are continually watched. A few examples are Friends, Scrubs, and the Hills. This in turn is quite funny yet tiresome to have people discuss what might happen in the future of the show when I’ve already seen the debated conclusion at home in the US.

In a way, I feel right at home when I turn the T.V. on in the U.K. This month on the music channel, throughout the month of May they are only playing American music calling the special the U.S. of May. Another consequence of this American media appeal, is a boxed or packaged America for the consumer (i.e. the British person at home watching) as television sub channels compete for viewings. This of course results, in a parade of (in my opinion) poor shows such as, sweet 16, the simple life and so on which projects an extreme consumer based version of my country, creating a stereotyped image of American people that isn’t accurate.

With saying all of this, I want to make it clear that I love BBC and all of the great British television shows that it produces. I find it comforting to know when I am homesick, I can turn on the T.V. in the U.K. and find Friends or Scrubs that I always watched back home. So in a way it is nice to find American shows and music on television, but yet again it’s still nice to see new shows.