Pols of Intnl Comms - Sess 2 - 9-2-16



The Global Village.


Innis: (1950) Empire and Communication


...we become concerned with the problem of empire and, in particular, with factors responsible for the successful operation of 'centrifugal and centripetal forces.'

In the organization of large areas, communication occupies a vital place, and it is significant that Bryce's periods correspond roughly, first to that dominated by

clay and papyrus, second to that dominated by parchment, and third to that dominated by paper. The effective government of large areas depends to a

very important extent on the efficiency of communication.



The concepts of time and space reflect the significance of important extent on the efficiency of communication.  The concepts of time and space reflect the

significance of media to civilization. Media that emphasize time are those that are durable in character, such as parchment, clay, and stone. The heavy

materials are suited to the development of architecture and sculpture. Media that emphasize space are apt to·be less durable and light in character,

such as papyrus and paper. The latter are suited to wide areas in administration and trade. The conquest of Egypt by Rome gave access to supplies of papyrus,

which became the basis of a large administrative empire. Materials that emphasize time favour decentralization and hierarchical types of institutions,

while those that emphasize space favour centralization and systems of government less hierarchical in character. Large-scale political organizations

such as empires must be considered from the standpoint of two dimensions, those of space and time. Empires persist by overcoming the bias of media

which overemphasizes either dimension. They have tended to flourish under conditions in which civilization reflects the influence of more than one medium,

and in which the bias of one medium towards decentralization is offset by the bias of another medium towards centralization.




Man's activities and powers were roughly extended in proportion to the increased use and perfection of written records. The old magic

was transformed into a new and more potent record of the written word. Priests and scribes interpreted a slowly changing tradition

and provided a justification for established authority. An extended social structure strengthened the position of an individual

leader with military power, who gave orders to agents who received and executed them. The sword and pen worked together. Power was

increased by concentration in a few hands; specialization of function was enforced, and scribes with leisure to keep and study records

contributed to the advancement of knowledge and thought. The written record signed, sealed, and swiftly transmitted was essential to military

power and the extension of government. Small communities were written into large states, and states were consolidated into empire.

The monarchies of Egypt and Persia, the Roman empire, and the city-states  were essentially products of writing.



Extension of activities in more densely populated regions created the need for written records, which, in turn, supported further extension of activities.

Instability of political structures and conflict followed concentration and extension of power. A common ideal image of words spoken beyond the

range of personal experience was imposed on dispersed communities and accepted by them. It has been claimed that an extended social structure

was not only held together by increasing numbers of written records, but also equipped with an increased capacity to change ways of living. Following the

invention of writing, the special form of heightened language characteristic of the oral tradition and a collective society gave way to private writing.

Records and messages displaced the collective memory. Poetry was written and detached from the collective festivals.



Writing made the mythical and historical past, the familiar and the alien creation available for appraisal. The idea of things became differentiated from things.

This dualism demanded thought and reconciliation. Life was contrasted with the eternal universe, and attempts were made to reconcile the individual with the universal spirit.




Western media hegemony


Print, TV, Radio, satellite; cross-border TV - CNN, Sky, DBS systems.


ITU: Established in 1865 to facilitate and regulate the interconnection and interoperability of national telegraph networks, ITU has worked ceaselessly since then to connect the world. Over the years, the Union's mandate has expanded to cover the invention of voice telephony, the development of radiocommunications, the launch of the first communications satellites, and most recently, the telecommunications-based information age. Along the way, ITU's structure and activities have evolved and adapted to meet the needs of this changing mandate.


Telegraph wires soon linked major towns in many countries. A submarine telegraph wire was laid between Britain and France in 1850, and a regular service inaugurated the following year. In 1858, the first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid. But there was a problem. Where lines crossed national borders, messages had to be stopped and translated into the particular system of the next jurisdiction.To simplify matters, regional agreements began to be forged, and in Europe, representatives of 20 States gathered in Paris at an International Telegraph Conference to find ways to overcome barriers and make services more efficient. They would create a framework to standardize telegraphy equipment, set uniform operating instructions, and lay down common international tariff and accounting rules.  





In European countries much the same debates take place as elsewhere in the world, although the European Commission is in the unusual position of giving a lead to policy in numerous states. Currently,

it is seeking to forge a consistent set of principles and practices for a directive that will regulate electronic media, apart from television. Recent consultation documents (e.g. CEC, 2000) indicate the following

main general policy guidelines:


1. Competition rules should be the prime vehicle for regulating the electronic communication market;

2. There should continue to be separate sector-specific regulations, although infrastructure should be dealt with together;

3. Obligations should be kept to a minimum;

4. Universal service should be maintained or extended;

5. Regulations between member states should be harmonized;

6. There should be independent and impartial national regulatory authorities.



Threat to PSB by DBS and unbundling of European markets - neo-liberal paradigm



Re-thinking of the 'Empires' of national control - the Internet/WWW



Where does the threat of new communications forms lie: with issues of control?


For whom? at what level?


Do such concerns adapt/get created to changing threat perceptions outside of traditional aspects of media control? i.e. national security fears.