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Control of information flow provides ground for media bias

With the enduring fad of the term called ‘western bias’ being the center of the world discussion, it’s needless to say that we as a nation have erred up to an extent


Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  20 Feb 2021 6:13 AM GMT

Bishakha Bhardwaj

(The writer can be reached at

'Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control

information, you can control people' — Tom Clancy

With the enduring fad of the term called 'western bias' being the center of the world discussion, it's needless to say that we as a nation have erred up to an extent as it becomes a default choice for us to always set our tradition in contrast to the west. The concept in itself is something that we have exaggerated at times and now that people are taking a keen interest in it we seem to discuss it more often. Nevertheless, we always had the instances to our credit to understand how we were excluded from the global mainstream and the fact that it is not at all phenomenal in the present context. If we look back we will find history giving us loads of examples where there is superiority, dominion, and disagreement in abundance. The aspiration towards united security in global terms and proliferation of freedom, as well as for annulling the hegemony of one country over another was the motive of the historic Non-Alignment Movement. According to an idealist of the Congress party, Rejaul Karim Laskar it had emerged from the desire of Jawaharlal Nehru and other administrators of the newly independent countries of the third world to shield their freedom in face of the complicated global situation demanding fidelity to the then two superpowers. Contemplating what we have as a result of the problems related to western bias, we need to look back to the years of crises when information flow was being controlled by a few nations.

A 1964 report by the American media scholar, Wilbur Schramm indicates that the flow of news among nations was thin and much attention was given to developed countries, and little to less-developing ones, meaningful events were ignored and facts were distorted to some extent. From a more revolutionary perspective, Herbert Schiller observed in 1969 that developing countries had little expressive input into determinations about entities like radiofrequency allowances for satellites at a key meeting in Geneva in 1962, as an example. Furthermore, he had also specified that several satellites also had military applications, for example, Intelsat, which was set up for worldwide co-operation in satellite transmission, was also overseen by the United States. In the 1970s these and other issues were taken up by the Non-Alignment Movement and debated within the United Nations and UNESCO. Also, 1970 saw the rise of NWICO for the first time, which evolved later as an effort to fight the transnational economic imbalance that was viewed as a bequest of imperialism. MacBride Commission, a UNESCO council chaired by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Sean McBride has used the term widely and also produced a report titled "Many Voices, One World", sketching the main philosophical themes of the New World Information and Communication Order. A wide spectrum of issues was put forward as a part of NWICO discussions and some of these involved long-standing cases of media coverage of the developing world and uneven flows of media leverage. Similarly, the issues about technologies with critical military and commercial use when the developing world was likely to be marginalized by satellite and computer technologies were also taken up. Examples of some of these cases in this context are – the unbalanced flow of mass media from the developed world to the underdeveloped countries, an unfair gap of the radio spectrum, a small number of developed countries controlling almost 90% of the radio spectrum, identical misgiving about the allocation of the geostationary orbit for satellites, broadcasting of television signals into third World countries without prior permission (a threat to sovereignty), the use of satellites to collect information on crops and natural resources at a time when most developing countries could not analyse this data, etc.

These inequalities created a division that has its underlying impact on the very basic foundation of information flow. And hence our wonderment doesn't approve of the fact that we are fastened with the ties of the historical stature we have been basking so far. It cannot be denied that there has been 'controlling' in the flow of information in the field of mass media which is an embodiment of all kinds of data sources for a long time now. Therefore the new media's biggest challenge now is to relieve the notion of globalism and global coverage with a devotion to the principle that all parts of the world should be represented in their expression, or we lose the likelihood of being fully informed. Despite the said developments worldwide, there has been limited analytical reasoning for the world's shrinking press. Since the aftermath of World War II, the press was expected to subtly assert viewers on comparative global status which has not been fulfilled yet as extensive information of the globe presenting coherence and context have not been explicitly placed.

Fundamental to such understanding is the media's potential to map the world generously. The trained and educated person in the global community must not only know what is happening in all parts of the globe, but also across thematic topics such as prevalent global technology and ideology. And hence there is a dire need for the global media entrepreneurs, learners, investigators, and others to acknowledge their mutual interest in understanding their place in shaping beliefs and opinions for the globe.

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