Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture
Vol. 4, No. 2, 1991
Television and ...
Edited by John Hartley

From piracy to sovereignty: international VCR trends

Tom O'Regan

Of all the new TV technologies the most significant to date has been the VCR. By 1990 it could be confidently claimed that 31.3% of the world's TV homes had a VCR representing some 206 million video households. [1] Its diffusion internationally has caused, in the words of one major study, "global political fallout". [2] The VCR had a number of advantages over its competitor new TV technologies such as cable and direct broadcast by satellite (DBS). In most countries it was the first new TV technology in the field. It also had the advantage of being a low level widely available and inexpensive technology able to fit readily into existing communication and transportation networks, and business structures (electrical and other retailers, cafes, and later service stations, and department stores). It could therefore develop in a piecemeal, accretive way without large initial capital outlays, and was thus suited to decentralised small business investment, at least initially. [3] A consequence of such piecemeal development was that VCR markets developed largely outside governmental purview. These characteristics made the VCR unlike broadcast TV, cable and DBS, all of which required large capital outlays and new technological infrastructures, including distribution structures, and hence centralised corporate and state investment to put satellites up and maintain them, to lay the cable lines, or to regulate the industry.

Apart from the VCR, all other new TV technologies presented governments with a policy problem in advance of their appearance. Thus each of the other new TV technologies have more often than not become enmeshed in complex administrative, economic and social policy making issues which are taking years to resolve. Australia's on-again-off-again experience of pay TV since 1982 is a good example of this. [4] As a consequence cable services are still comparatively underdeveloped in most Western countries (apart from the USA, Canada and Belgium). [5] Additionally, the technological developments necessary to stage direct broadcasts by satellite to domestic consumers have only come of age in the mid to late 1980s. [6] Operating within this environment the VCR necessarily functioned as a de facto cable service taking over some of the functions that US cable channels provide.

But the spread of the VCR was not just due to the undeveloped state of competitor technologies. Just as importantly, it was related to the comparative absence of multi-channel, commercially oriented broadcast TV markets in the world system. Thus in many countries the VCR came to act as both an extra traditional TV service and a cable service. Within virtually every national market it entered the VCR had fall-out effects. [7] Among these were the impetus its presence gave to the introduction of new broadcast channels and other new TV technologies, and the adoption within them of commercially oriented TV broadcasting practices and philosophies.

The Three Types of VCR Market

But the VCR did not have the same effect throughout the world. Its impact depended on the nature of the audio-visual market in question. Three broad types of VCR market emerged. In the first type video functioned as a value added entertainment medium principally dedicated to the movies. Such a market was based upon the existence of: mature or maturing (commercial) TV system geared to providing entertainment, high disposable income amongst its audience, and copyright protection. Typically the VCR became, after some dislocation, integrated within the existing media market as a profitable window. The USA and other major Western countries in Europe, Japan and Australia are either broadly these kinds of market or are rapidly becoming such through the commercialisation of TV services. [8]

In the second market type, video functioned as an extra, partially underground, TV service. Such a market was based upon the relative absence of competitive entertainment TV services, low disposable income, barriers to trade in cultural production and the absence of effective copyright protection. In such markets video presaged a longer term crisis in the existing media. This lead, in some countries in the 1980s, to the partial disintegration of movie markets and film industries owing to the substantial black market traffic in video that developed. The inauguration of the VCR also marked the virtual end of central political control over information flows and cultural production in many developing and Eastern bloc countries. [9] Where government controlled TV had limited operating hours, limited channel choice, and substantial government guidance in programming selection, the provision of entertainment TV had, as a consequence, been limited as well. Here a video market emerged in which staple TV, like drama series and politically contentious information programming, made up an important component of the video titles available in the VCR market in addition to movies.

The third market type was somewhere in between these first two. Video functioned here in a hybrid way - part alternative TV service and part de facto pay-TV service. This type of VCR market was made up of combinations of conditions from both market types described above. Thus the VCR could exist in fully developed commercial TV environments, but in countries with lower disposable incomes and little copyright protection. Latin American markets tended to be of this type. The VCR market was and still is substantially illegal, offering pirated movies to relatively affluent consumers. Another variant was the VCR in states with some limited commercial broadcasting, high disposable incomes, demand for hi-tech consumer products, but with relatively undeveloped broadcasting infrastructures and substantial barriers in the trade of entertainment programming because of political or cultural censorship. Wealthy Gulf States were and still are an example here. Their Islamic commitments drove western, particularly Hollywood, entertainment programming and some informational programming from their TV screens. [10] As a consequence an 'illegal' window for such programming was provided for by the VCR market. [11] Another hybrid was the ethnic VCR market in wealthy countries. Here commercial dynamics in broadcast TV (and also cable) were generally geared towards reaching a mass audience or profitably narrow-casting within that mass audience. As a consequence of these dynamics mainstream entertainment fare did not sufficiently account for ethnic cultural tastes and the need for programming in ethnic languages. In wealthy open western markets (USA, Australia, Canada, West Germany, Switzerland, UK) and in hybrid wealthy markets (the Gulf states, Singapore) the VCR functioned as an ideal decentralising instrument permitting ethnic minorities and "guest workers" to have their own alternative TV service at no cost to the State. [12]

These three types of market offered producers different kinds of opportunity. Because of their orderly, wealthy and substantially legal nature, VCR markets in developed countries of the first type were the most significant markets for producers. Indeed the VCR must be credited as being a major force in the international corporate integration of entertainment. This is a development which has particularly favoured Hollywood and may not augur well for other Western producers. Markets of the second and third type present a different prospect. There the substantially pirated nature of the video trade makes for negligible returns to producers despite the massive presence on rental shelves of imported programming.

Exploring the Paradoxes

The central paradox of the VCR for film and TV production is surely that whilst no previous TV technology has done as much to contribute to the overall revenue base and health of film production, no other TV technology before or since has seen producers forgo so much revenue through piracy and the parallel importing of surplus stock. Both undermined the integrity of territorial copright licencing and in so doing attacked the existing trading bases of international audio-visual circulation. If print theft, copying and exhibitor understating of the box-office gross, were endemic problems within the cinema, the problems of piracy associated with VCR are more so. Piracy still makes up between 10-20% of the VCR trade in Hollywood's major export markets and is in the 70-100% range in some Asian, Latin American and Gulf states. It was once worse. In 1985 Brazil, Columbia, Mexico and Taiwan were reported to be countries where pirated cassettes made up 100% of the total market. In the same year the percentage for Spain was 65%, West Germany 45%, UK and Belgium 35%, Australia, Canada and France 20% and Japan, Hong Kong and Italy 10%. [13] Video piracy was estimated to have cost Hollywood some $(US)1.5 billion world-wide in 1988. [14] Indeed Hollywood regards piracy as the most important problem facing its exports - more important as a problem than all other international restrictions on trade in audio-visual programming put together. [15]

Hollywood is, of course, not the only film production industry affected by widespread piracy. But despite the fact that piracy costs Hollywood more than other major production industries, it is also better placed to handle piracy than others like India and Hong Kong are. The reason: Hollywood's principle export markets have been those countries - in Western Europe, Canada, Japan and Australasia - where piracy is under some control. These markets also have higher disposable incomes (therefore are capable of paying more for video rental and sell-through product); have relatively enforceable copyright controls; have long established and (relatively) open channels of trade; and have the US Majors already playing an active role in the distribution of international programming within the country.

In comparison, the Indian film industry has been hurt by video in its domestic and export markets. [16] India's industry relied upon a large domestic market and exports to poorer countries in Africa and Asia, and to its ethnic minorities in countries from Fiji to the UK. With lower incomes, limited mechanisms for copyright control and limited capacity for the international coordination of its distribution, the Indian industry was liable to lose control over the flow of its video products. Thus various video parlours -"video hotels, video restaurants, video clubs, video theatres, video rooms, video halls, and even video coaches" [17] - thrived within India itself, showing pirated tapes before local cinemas were able to obtain the movie.

Where once Hollywood and the Indian film industry complained about products not being screened owing to censorship, import barriers, or simply paternalistic programming philosophies, they now complain about not getting just recompense for their product being screened. Indeed not since the hey-day of Hollywood in the late silent period has Hollywood programming been so widely available, and not since partition has Indian product been so readily available in Pakistan and Bangladesh. [18]

But the existence of piracy should not obscure the close resemblance between the illegal and legal trade. In illegal markets local distributors and rental outlets benefit at the expense of copyright owners (producers and distributors) while in the legal trade copyright owners (Hollywood producers and multinational distributors) are able to gain returns, which then permit multinational distributors to gain significant commercial and political leverage within these markets. Piracy complaints relate to the issue of orderly marketing, not to product exclusion. They relate to the distribution of profits between production, distribution and rental sectors of the market. Thus piracy does not compromise the tendency within the VCR market to recentralise production sources for programming. Rather it confirms the tendency.

Such recentralisation of production and distribition in Western markets occurs, paradoxically, alongside a decentralisation of control at the national level. That is, VCR appears to be at one and the same time a powerful centralising force at the national level, permitting the integration of national markets on a scale approximate to the hey-day of cinema, and a decentralising force at the international level, removing national boundaries and the gate-keeping role of the state as an arbiter of commercial relationships within the entertainment and informational fields. Thus video can be a force for greater international commercial control over information and cultural dissemination leading to an unprecedented integration of markets; and simultaneously a force for political and national loss of control over information and cultural dissemination leading to the partial disintegration of existing markets and their reconstruction.

Some Characteristics of Video

Oswald Ganley and Gladys Ganley argue that video, like so many of the other new TV technologies, enables people to "personalise their TV viewing" and see "almost whatever they choose to". [19] In this sense it brings about "a sort of de facto global media decentralisation". [20] The theme of video as a force for media "personalisation" and "decentralisation" is repeated in the remarkable study by Douglas Boyd, John Lent and Joseph Straubhaar - Videocassette Recorders in the Third World. [21] Here, they claim, "VCRs and video are a tremendous force for decentralising and decontrolling 'television' in the Third World." [22]

What was being 'decontrolled' was the monopoly over audio-visual domestic entertainment enjoyed by national broadcast TV systems - commercial and non-commercial. Thus the VCR represented for Ganley and Ganley the single most powerful threat to the "national information monopolies claimed by many nations" in the Third World and Eastern Europe. [23] Further, the greater the national information monopoly claimed, the more disruptive was the impact of the VCR. Thus those countries with trade barriers and governmental gatekeeping over information, entertainment or cultural flows experienced a more drastic dislocation than those without.

But the VCR is not 'anti-information monopoly' per se. It just works against particular kinds of information monopoly and favours other kinds. It does this because it is a force for decentralisation at the consumer level. It is at the level of the individual, the family, the household or the clan unit that the exercise of greater choice in and personalising of TV viewing is exercised. Compare this to the monopoly over audio-visual entertainment enjoyed by broadcast TV, where it was once possible for TV to proclaim itself through the well known injunction to 'give the people what they need, not what they want'. In such circumstances all the viewer could do was choose not to watch. But with the VCR, audiences could watch something else - and did so. In this way cherished paternalistic, political, or national culture goals of established broadcast TV based on their control over TV audiences' viewing were radically undermined within markets from Western Europe to the Third World.

Take the case of Malaysia reported by Boyd et al. That country's imposition of both an official Malay culture and Islam within TV led to the video market becoming a resource for other kinds of of entertainment programming. The large ethnic Chinese and the smaller Indian populations particularly, but also Malays themselves, turned to video for their entertainment during compulsory prayer breaks and other forms of non-commercial TV. Thus the Malaysian VCR market functioned as a conduit for Hong Kong, Taiwanese, Indian and Hollywood movies and serials not afforded a significant role in the TV service. [24]

Barriers to trade in video cassettes and to video circulation cannot be successfully imposed from above by governments. Attempts to ban the importation and use of VCR's have been singularly unsuccessful. Indeed outright bans or exorbitant tariffs on VCR players created VCR player "trafficking" as one of the major "black market" growth areas of the 1980s in Latin America, Asia, and Arab states. [25] Even Iran, which in the early 1980s imposed the death sentence for VCR possession, has been unable to police its spread and has no recorded executions. [26]

The limits to the form and nature of the video market are set by cultural and social regimes of consumer taste. Such exercise of so-called consumer sovereignty can lead to contradictory outcomes. On the one hand it can lead to a more or less open market-place for ideas - whether as a conduit for alternative or for established political and social information. On the other hand, the exercise of consumer sovereignty need not lead to greater varieties of political, social, or cultural information in the 'entertainment' marketplace. It can, particularly in developed markets, lead to a diminished range of types and sources of entertainment programming as VCR libraries and sell-through in retail outlets focus upon feature length movies and some exercise and sporting product. This puts relatively finite film industry dollars into a relatively narrow range of product in a context of partial integration of cinema, video and broadcast TV windows.

The VCR rental structure in its exploitation of consumer sovereignty bears a close resemblance to the cinema. But cinema is easily controlled and regulated as it requires assembling audiences in large numbers in delimited times and places of screening. By contrast all video requires is a VCR player and TV and an audience as small as one person per screening, to be viable. Further the VCR product can be screened at home, in a library or in a cafe (as in India and Taiwan), and the supplier of tapes can range from someone over the back-yard fence to a registered rental dealer. Video product flow and viewing cannot be easily monitored. Light in weight and easily reproducible, the video cassette is able to cross customs check-points, bypass cumbersome censorship bottlenecks, and evade law enforcement agencies. Furthermore, being electronic, video can easily and efficiently be reproduced without expensive investment in equipment. Thus the monitoring and regulation of video relies more upon the good will of the population than upon the efficiency of the state regulatory apparatus. Its regulation can only work in the very conditions of hegemonic consensus which it undermines. Within the cinema on the other hand, the cost of the technology of reproduction acts as a significant barrier to the diffusion of the reproductive technology. By contrast video combines significantly lower costs of reproduction with the diffusion of the technology of reproduction throughout the social structure. (This diffusion is greater than that available in print through the photocopier.)

Thus video's reproducibility, transportability, and the domestication of the apparatus of projection has favoured the VCR's quite radical decentralisation both within exhibition (the home) and distribution at the point of sale (the video rental outlet and 'sell-through' structures).

The cost of striking an extra print in video is little more than the cost of the blank tape. Large numbers of copies can be made at negligible costs compared to the cost of a cinema film's negative. With the VCR, audio-visual entertainment finally entered an economy akin to print 'publishing', with higher volumes entailing greater economies of scale, lower consumer prices and the consequent emergence of bestseller blockbusters as market leaders.

Less people need to watch per print copy for a profit to be made. Further, cheaply produced tapes can be delivered to diverse locations inexpensively owing to their light weight. The public's investment in a VCR machine for domestic use has bypassed the need for the maintenance of expensive public screening venues, whilst providing ready made permanent exhibition venues. The video consumer also effectively pays for the most expensive transportation costs: the costs of delivering the rented video to the home from the rental store and then returning it for the next customer's use. These factors have contributed to the myriad of decentralised nodal points for distribution in rental and sell-through. Hence video libraries start to appear not merely in formal rental outlets but in garages, grocery stores, and cafes.

This video rental structure has favoured the development of large, highly centralised distribution institutions above the library and sell-through structures, to permit the orderly, quick supply of product in sufficient quantities for the video library to remain competitive. In this way VCR rental demand favours the development of international linkages, whether legal or illegal, to smooth the flow of product to the local rental libraries. In the process diverse audio-visual markets have become integrated and product lines partially standardised as national gate-keeping intermediaries have been significantly, though not totally bypassed. Thus video is structurally caught up in a process of internationalising taste cultures within its markets that recalls the cinema.

Ironically, the diffusion of VCR reproducibility is an important factor in this centralising of production sources and favouring of international distributors. If video's cheapness in this respect underwrites the rental structure it also permits easy copyright infringement. Thus copyright holders have to pitch their margins at a cost low enough to discourage duplication in the rental and sell-through markets. There are inbuilt thresholds which circumscribe the profit margins that copyright holders can extract from sales in video markets. To discourage piracy video titles need to be relatively cheap to acquire by video renters. Therefore, to bear these low returns per audience member reached, producers and distributors will need to rely on large economies of scale to be profitable. Obviously international distribution is better placed to achieve such economies. The US major distributors and producers, operating in the biggest single VCR market, can readily take on a coordinating and production role within international VCR markets. Other national cinemas have not been so lucky. Video has eaten into the place that national cinemas have been able to achieve in their own markets, because the cost of making a film available on video entails only limited returns in the local market. Thus local work is either too costly (therefore encouraging piracy) or simply not worth making available on video.

An additional consequence of video's reproducibility for entertainment producers is the impetus it gives to the movement towards more or less simultaneous - or 'timely' - release of major video and cinema titles in the principle Western markets. Indeed distributors and producers have no choice but to release their product in such a 'timely' fashion in the cinema and then later on video. If they do not then the title would, in all likelihood, appear in a pirated version or be imported without licence (a parallel import) from a market where that video title is in release, thereby undermining the basis for territory by territory sales. If a film was released into cinemas significantly after its release in another market, imported pirate VCR copies would have a chance of undercutting the 'legitimate' cinema market for such a film. Thus on the Australian release of the blockbuster Ghandi some little time after its UK release, pirated versions of the film taken from the cinema print in the UK were available in some Australian retail outlets.

Video thus provided a means for popular audio-visual product to circulate more or less simultaneously in the world market whether by legal or illegal means. In doing so a new dimension to 'timely' availability was created. The combination of its light weight, its reproducibility and the difficulties facing its detection - what I shall call its 'porous' nature - facilitated transfrontier circulation and piracy. In response multi-national coordination whether by formal agreement or common ownership emerged to manage more or less immediate trans-frontier flows. In this way video's 'porous' nature was set to commercial advantage as product flows became regularised in more efficient and effective ways than they had been in the past. Thus within VCR and cinema markets of the late 1980s came an unprecedented integrating activity - particularly in Europe as trans-European cinema chains and distribution groups (for both cinema and VCR windows) evolved across language markets. This can be seen not merely as a reactive strategy aimed at reducing the damaging impact of both the diffusion of reproducibility and the video's 'porous' characteristics - it can be also seen as an offensive strategy to turn the structural characteristics of the technology to the commercial advantage of national and transnational oligopolistic structures.

Regulation can be done at the point of sale if it is sufficiently public - and if there are sufficient commercial incentives for established rental outlets to deal in legitimate product. Rental library operators do, for example, view a legitimate market as adding to the start-up costs for potential competitors and therefore as discouraging competition. In this way the support of the rental outlets themselves has been secured by international distributors. Thus in a relatively open market without too many barriers to the entry of product video has proven capable of being policed to a certain level. Indeed in the major Western video markets VCR piracy is under control to the extent that it now scarcely rates a mention in trade literature.

But global market integration is not without difficulties - particularly as the requirement for near simultaneous release runs counter to the existing staggered release patterns characteristic of the cinema and TV industries. Staggered release often worked to the mutual advantage of local exhibitors and multinational distributors enabling them to take into account local conditions and affording them a tried product and tested campaign. So too time bars were used by multinational distributors to stagger release between core and peripheral markets. Thus movies would arrive in Turkey two to four years after US and European release. [27] But with simultaneous video release, product can easily flow between markets outside of the control of distributors and copyright licence holders (so-called 'parallel imports'). Moreover this flow can be from peripheral to core markets - thereby undercutting market by market price setting. Hollywood sets prices to rental outlets and national distributors on the basis of what each market will bear: a function of market size, wealth, and degrees of cultural similarity. [28] For example, tapes sold in the small Singapore market for the Singaporean English language market - already needing to be discounted because of the "cultural discount" suffered by the programs being screened for a predominantly ethnic Chinese audience - have ended up on Australian video library shelves as parallel imports. [29]

The Importance of Piracy to VCR Dynamics

In video markets in many poorer parts of the world the diffusion of reproducibility, coupled with a lack of integration in international marketing structures, low disposable incomes, and little enforceable copyright protection, leads to the extensive development of illegal VCR markets. But in many ways these markets are not unlike legal markets. Piracy permits movies to be made available in a 'timely' fashion - certainly more 'timely' than had been the case in the cinema where waits from anything between six months (eg Mexico) and two to four years (eg Turkey) were common. Furthermore, to secure the necessary volume of titles, both a local concentration in distribution and an international network needs to be set up.

Piracy has been an integral - even essential - component in the development of VCR in the Third World. In these (often poorer) countries, the cost of obtaining programming is the principle variable in the video system. This is the case because the costs of both VCR machines and blank video-tapes are relatively fixed. Furthermore, VCR machine costs are very high for Third World consumers; the only room for variation here lies in circumventing the tariffs, sales taxes or official bans on the technology. By buying on the black market such additional imposts can be substantially removed - as noted above consumers seeking to minimise costs of the machinery in this way have made VCR machine trafficking one of the most important black markets of the 1980s. [30] Yet even taking account of such black markets, the cost of the machines and tapes remain a relatively inflexible portion of the costs of the overall VCR system. This puts pressure for savings to be made in the other principle area of the video system - programming (whether TV programs or movies). Here, significant reductions in costs can be obtained through the piracy permitted by the cheapness and diffusion of the reduplicating technology. Indeed if savings are not available here then the prohibitive cost of obtaining programming severely curtails the development of VCR markets in Third World countries. The volume of product and the range of titles available would be limited - and scarcely 'timely' because of the added purchase price needed to pay copyright holders. Thus Boyd et al can claim that video piracy "lowers rental prices, adding to the diffusion of VCRs and the volume of rentals." [31] Here, through the use of duplicating technology, the costs of obtaining material can be reduced to virtually the cost of transporting a blank tape. A measure of the hidden subsidy provided to the rental market by piracy is the price hike to consumers that has occurred in those markets which have moved towards legalisation. In Hong Kong, for example, a crackdown on piracy increased rental prices by as much as 500%. [32] In poorer countries piracy not only allows the development of a VCR system but sustains it. It has been responsible for a 'timely' integration of their audio-visual market within the international system, something that the cinema and broadcast TV had not been able to achieve before. As Ganley and Ganley note:

Private citizens everywhere are seen to take a special delight in having short circuited, via piracy and smuggling, the usual long wait for American and other films and TV programming.


The logic here, as in the legal market-place, is towards the creation of VCR markets and marketing strategies which are increasingly reliant upon making a 'standardised' product available in a close to simultaneous fashion within the system. [34]

The VCR's 'porousness' is then a powerful factor integrating markets on a global scale and a powerful ideological weapon driving such integration. Thus whether the programming entails payment to copyright owners or not, the VCR permits the wholesale 'timely' integration of programming. In the process it is creating global program availability, without the need for inter-governmental agreements, or officially and legally sanctioned international trade agreements. This is one of the VCR revolution's most remarkable achievements. In doing so it made necessary new international and inter-governmental agreements, and the regularisation of existing operations to take account of changed circumstances (in many cases 'pirate' operators became 'legitimate').

The diffusion of reproducibility has two further consequences. First it makes heavy handed cultural, political or socially driven censorship difficult. Censorship of VCR can only work in a self-regulated way through renter and library consensus working in concert with police and other agencies. Without such consensus censorship is ineffective. Second it is a powerful instrument governing the relationship between rental libraries, multi-national distributors, and producers. The diffusion of reproducibility gives the rental sector comparative bargaining advantages in this three way relationship. If too much surplus value is sought to be extracted in VCR markets by distributors, piracy will return as a viable option for rental libraries and consumers, and as a consequence black market distributors may emerge to take on that distribution role. Producer profits from video requires correspondingly larger markets and increased economies of scale. VCR markets thus favour internationally destined product. It appears likely that threshold levels for piracy are lower in predominantly import markets than in producer/export markets. Producers can expect a better deal in producer dominated markets like the USA than they can expect in a predominantly video import market such as Australia. [35] Indeed the market power of film exporters is created rather more than is generally recognised precisely through such trade-offs in which local rental/cinema chains benefit at the expense of exporter producers.

The Advantages of Video

Let us now consider video's advantages relative to its competitors among the culture industries. How is video different from other TV technologies? What advantages does video have? Unlike cable there are no expensive lines of distribution into the home to maintain or keep open as the VCR consumer bears the full cost of transport into the home. The consumer uses the facility when she wants to - she does not have to pay for it when she does not use it. Additionally the consumer is able to personalise her viewing of the program away from the strictures scheduling.

Compared with free broadcasting VCR distribution has no middle level such as the TV station or network whose investment in plant and equipment would be protected by government regulation and which is the traditional locus of power and profit for broadcasting culture industries. [36] All the players within the VCR system exist in a competitive market. Further the VCR market-place does not have either advertising or the state as critical shapers of its market.

Advertising's brokerage role in free TV was partially responsible for the dynamics of regionalisation and decentralisation of production within commercial TV. Initially sponsorship, and later spot advertising strategies and ratings cards (including demographic information) encouraged the partial indigenisation of TV services from Brazil to Australia. [37] Advertisers - particularly multinational advertisers - looked to the creation of suitable indigenous programming as a suitable vehicle for product placement and its local identification. [38] State brokerage could shape the broadcast TV market-place, dictate the form of competition within it, and lead to particular resource allocation within the system. At its most interventionary the state could minimise the commercial and entertainment direction of programming. More typically in Western countries the state erected substantial barriers to entry of new stations thereby creating oligopolistic situations within a market and cosy broadcaster/state relations in which broadcasters could be expected to meet certain social and regulatory obligations. Typically the state stipulated forms of cross-subsidisation of programming types (with content rules) or stations (as happened initially in Britain with Channel 4).

The absence of intermediate brokerage levels in VCR markets of the kind that shaped free TV ensured that VCR developed in similar ways to cinema and commercial publishing. Here a logic of consumer choice permitted few obstacles to be placed in the way of transnational corporate linkages and, if the market could bear it, highly centralised production sources marketing a product of a standardised length and nature in large quantities. By the same token the publishing and cinema market has also afforded varying though lesser opportunities for indigenous and other product to circulate.

Video is driven by vastly different forces than is broadcast TV. The type and character of control within the system passes out of the hands of nation state intermediaries and into trans-national configurations; control over 'what is scheduled' passes into the hands of distributors relying on volume sales to rental libraries and retail traders - and therefore audience demand; and these distributors need to extract only so much surplus from the rental and sell-through sectors because of the threat of piracy undercutting the legitimate market. Undoubtedly this encourages a significant recentralising of production and implies oligopolistic control in distribution: the risks and losses associated with production and distribution are simply that great. Such production centralisation will not be solely to Hollywood's advantage. Hong Kong and Japanese producers have benefitted as much as Hollywood has from the liberalisation of Taiwanese cultural markets. [39] Similarly, VCR provides opportunities for TV and movie producers in particular countries to take commercial advantage of their ethnic enclaves in USA, Canada, Australia, UK, France, Germany, Malaysia etc, thereby better integrating these enclaves into the 'homeland's' audio-visual system. Whilst the relationship between Hong Kong cinema and video and Chinese enclaves is the most visible example here; less visible relationships exist between Indian cinema and its English enclaves; Croatian and Macedonian film and videos and their Australian, Canadian and New Zealand enclaves.

The picture that emerges in a relatively decontrolled cultural market-place is of larger ethnic and cultural dynamics asserting themselves with command positions being taken by a first rung of audio-visual centres (USA, Hong Kong/Japan, India); important lower rung positions being taken by language markets (Spanish, French, Italian, German, Arabic and Indonesian); and at the bottom: (1) ethnic positions associated with particular languages which can deliver a quasi-TV service to overseas ethnic enclaves (Croatian and Macedonian video) on the one hand, and (2) 'national' products for local and some international release (Holland, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia) on the other. To be sure this emerging situation shares much in common with pre-video arrangements - particularly in the cinema. What is different now is that the character of the relations within the audio-visual industry has changed to the extent that consumer choice can find more direct and unmediated expression and commercial integration can be more successfully accomplished.

Responding to the VCR

The existence of the VCR has a second round of indirect effects upon adjacent media. The precise nature of such effects depends upon the overall media mix in the markets it enters, but there are some general effects that are typical. First the VCR draws audiences away from TV and the cinema to such an extent that TV and cinema groups in such markets need to adjust to its presence. Second the VCR's presence as a 'porous' and commercially driven entertainment medium precipitates government policy reactions in the whole communications sector. Indeed the advent of the VCR has been a potent catalyst in hastening the introduction of additional entertainment TV services in many Western and non-Western countries. What is common to such actions is that new and existing TV stations are increasingly being forced to make market driven programming entertainment choices and adopt commercially oriented philosophies to reclaim audiences.

Let us consider the impact upon the cinema first. The response in cinema exhibition in wealthy markets appears to follow a typical pattern identified by Bruce Austin in the American context. Austin has shown that VCR's have, after a brief period of dislocation of cinema markets and concern about piracy, emerged as an integral and profitable window for film producers alongside cinema release and ahead of pay cable, cable and broadcast TV. [40] So important is video to the cinema that, after an initial period of substantial cinema attendance drop and screen closures, video rehabituated audiences to feature length movies and in the process rekindled the cinema going habit and cinema rebuilding. In the highly developed Australian VCR market (in the absence of basic cable and pay-TV services) this commercial inter-relationship established itself earlier. Here video led to a 30-40% drop in theatre attendance in the 1984/5 period presaging a dramatic loss in the number of screens in Australia. Virtually overnight the drive-in cinema and many country town hardtops disappeared. Yet by 1988 cinema admissions were back to pre-video levels with plans to open new cinemas already well in train. [41] By then the trade literature had identified the VCR markets as a major threat to broadcast TV markets (one upshot of which was the development and controversy surrounding the 'peoplemeter').

In developed commercial markets, video points to major readjustments in the overall configuration of release patterns, as additional channels provided by video and other new TV technologies are added to the basic cinema and then broadcast TV windows that developed in the 1950s. What is affected is the orderly flow of product but not a definitive change of commercial and cultural organization. Rather, commercial strategies were re-jigged. Video rental came to occupy the place of the second release house for major Hollywood and national productions, and first release for what had previously been the drive-in, specialty and exploitation cinema house for lower budget generic titles.

In this way the extention of VCR rental structures throughout Hollywood's major export markets enabled Hollywood to pay a greater role within the international audio-visual mix. VCR markets in traditional Hollywood export markets and in the USA have contributed in no small measure to the Hollywood majors being able to, in Douglas Gomery's words, "stand at an apex of profit and power unseen since the golden age of the 1940s." [42] By 1988 American film studios earned $US4.5 billion from video cassettes, against $US2.9 billion from the box office (this compares to a 1983 figure of $800 and $2.6 billion respectively). [43] In a mutually reinforcing fashion the ready availability in the VCR window of Hollywood movies in its major markets - particularly the culturally proximate English language markets of USA, Canada, Australia and the UK - encouraged higher VCR penetration levels in those markets and therefore greater Hollywood profits. Indeed discounting both Japan (the principle supplier of the hardware and most important export market for Hollywood in the cinema) and the small Gulf States, the countries which reached 50% of penetration fastest were English speaking. [44] The 1990 figures confirm this multiplier effect with VCR penetration rates for Canada of 71.4%, Australia of 69.8%, Japan of 67.8%, USA of 57.5%, and the UK of 67% - all well in excess of European, Asian and Latin American figures. [45]

The 'cinema window' in less developed markets has not been so fortunate. In these markets orderly release of product has substantially passed out of the hands of formal structures and into the hands of more informal and less transparent 'semi-legal' networks and 'video parlours/video cafes'. Over the 1980s Indian export revenues have remained relatively static whilst Hollywood's have substantially increased. In the Third World attempts are being made to introduce some order into the chaos that Boyd et al and Ganley and Ganley identified in the first half of the 1980s. Countries here are being driven by a variety of pressures: concern for the erosion of the local market for the local film industry owing to piracy, attempts to 'win' back some kind of state control over 'black' market structures through market normalisation, US and other nation's bilateral and multilateral trade pressures to liberalise foreign investment rules and to sign and uphold copyright aggreements as a trade-off for market access and information. Turkey is a good index of these changes. Ogan notes how US major distributors had success with Turkish authorities only when its own film and cinema industry lobbied for changes as a means to reclaim lost revenues caused by piracy windows. [46] To be sure bi-lateral US pressure and Turkey's bid to join the European Community also contributed to the regularisation of the 'video' market as part of 'services' market reforms.

Within broadcast TV the response and adjustment to video has, if anything, been more far reaching. Providing additional entertainment TV services has been the means to win back some of the information monopoly and gate-keeping role enjoyed by state broadcasters within the TV system prior to video. But to win back audiences state broadcasters were required to adopt strategies which could make their TV services competitive with VCR markets. Such strategies to win back lost audiences can, paradoxically, undermine the very policies of maintaining traditional culture, political ideologies or religious precepts that were the basis for the non-market driven programming in the first place. Some of these problems can be understood with reference to Malaysia. The dramatic loss of TV audiences, both Malay and Chinese, worried authorities enough for them to liberalise their schedules to permit more entertainment programming and also to set up another TV service "with the main purpose of competing with video". [47] Thus the purchasing for broadcast TV of Chinese and Hollywood product, which is already popular in video markets, has occurred. The hope is that through such additional broadcast TV services, VCR will cease to function as an alternative TV service, and will be wound back to a pay for movie service as in Western countries like Germany, Japan, Australia and the USA.

Further problems for broadcast TV in many developing country markets were created by the propensity of middle class professional and other elites in developing and developed countries to consume 'foreign' cultural products. The VCR permitted the expression of these preferences in the TV environment as well as the cinema. [48] In Latin America, for example, Hollywood programming circulates extensively in the VCR window, whilst 'local' programming (local or from other Latin American states) is on offer on prime-time broadcast TV. [49] In this way a popular audience ghetto is being created alongside an elite and upper-middle-class preference for 'foreign' product in the VCR window (and, where viable, cable and satellite windows). If this valuable audience was not to be lost altogether broadcasters would need to win them back by incorporating the programming styles and types of their VCR opposition.

States in more developed countries, whilst not seeing the issue as principally one of protecting their informational monopoly, are still driven by a perceived need to protect their information industries - both on the part of their producers and their proprietors. In this way they are sanctioning the further development of competitive commercial strategies within TV and thereby aiding the integration of their domestic industries into international systems. Commercially oriented content seems to be the price that state policy makers are prepared to pay for some level of local and state control over program schedules. Thus, the principle world providers of entertainment programming, Hollywood - and to a lesser extent Hong Kong and India - are best placed to benefit from such a policy orientation. Additionally, in those markets where piracy is rife, Hollywood might receive more revenue from sales to broadcast TV stations than to the video sector, and so it has much to gain from these developments.

Another set of problems arise for broadcasters in developed markets where a commercial orientation has long been in place. There, as in the US with pay-cable and cable services, TV broadcasters face a long adjustment to the presence of the VCR and other new TV technologies. It seems that at least two distinct strategies appear to be in operation. First broadcast TV can propose a product differentation strategy through focussing upon non-movie forms of TV programming which are not significant in video stores. In this some TV staples would make up an integral part of such a product differentiation response: staples such as networked informational programming in news, current affairs, and magazine formats; mixed variety in musical entertainment, sport; and on-going drama series and serials. The VCR does not threaten such TV staples (the same cannot be said however for cable and pay-TV services which can use informational programming and sporting staples as the basis for entire services). Clearly TV is advantaged over the VCR because of the public good characteristics of TV in which by being broadcast my enjoyment of a particular program does not preclude any others from this program's enjoyment as it does for video. Viewers can see this program at this time; they may not be able to get the video they want.

An alternative strategy for broadcast TV is to accentuate its continuity with VCR and cinema windows by scheduling more movies on the broadcasting schedule. In this case TV broadcasters are implicitly accepting their 'poor relation' status vis-a-vis the VCR window and ceding the use of the TV set for at least part of the week to VCR viewing. [50] In doing this they are accepting a significantly reduced status as a 'movie' service - running movies after their release in cinema, video library and, at times, in sell-through retail outlets. Given that the VCR window has stimulated feature film production for video release (and potentially indifferent video receipts), broadcast TV has available to it cheap movie-filler programming for their broadcast schedules. Broadcasters may be able to use the 'recognition' value afforded particular video titles that video customers saw and might want to see again, that had wanted to rent but did not, or did not wish to see as much as another title. This 'me too programming' may well be having a delayed effect on the VCR market as that market finds it difficult to move those many titles that are 'off' the new release $A5 or $A4 shelves. TV is providing many of the same titles as those in the $2 per week category on VCR library shelves - even if it may not be providing video titles in quite the unexpurgated form as is available in the VCR window.

TV can also accentuate movie product 'out of fashion' in the VCR window. The relatively successful use of black and white movies by the Australian Ten Network through the Bill Collins' slots is an example of product differentation within movies which has assisted the development of 'nostalgia' collections in VCR shops. Citizen Kane released in sell-through outlets such as Myers and Target under Bill Collins' imprimateur is an example of this kind of movie packaging having flow on effects in the VCR market. In this case the TV market is functioning as a sort of de facto cinema window exposing the product for later VCR rental and purchase.

Given recent Australian TV schedules it appears that TV programmers are using both product differentiation and 'me too programming' strategies. Furthermore new TV technologies like the VCR are predominantly audience market rather than advertiser driven. That is, they more commonly rely upon a direct expression (via revenues) of preference for programming by audiences rather than the more complex demographic/ratings calculation at work in commercially oriented broadcast TV, and the public-and-social-good calculations which typically drive public broadcasters. This is significant because, as we have seen, this dynamic has been an important agent in the indigenization of TV drama programming. In the case of video the remuneration is not simply more direct, it also permits the integration of previously separate markets as overall markets for programming. By providing commercial opportunities for transnational distributors to fill the product vacuum so created, VCR markets enable strategic positions in countries where they were previously outlawed.

Not only does the VCR put additional import pressure upon the TV system through the expansion of channels for audio-visual products, it also reduces the commercial revenues available to broadcast TV. Such factors as these, working in concert, could substantially erode the economic base for 'local' (national) programming by siphoning off audiences and advertising revenue for cable, and work against the trends within the system to greater regional exchange and reduced overall significance of Hollywood programming in prime time which has been a feature of TV from Australia to Brazil. Viewers habituated through the rental market to a double take of Hollywood dominance of the cinema and VCR movie viewing would be more inclined to accept similar forms of programming in the free broadcast industry. Thus despite moves by national governments to 'control abundance' it appears likely that only a handful of 'exporter' centres will be advantaged by these changes within the international audio-visual mix.

The global reality is now one of effective multi-channel TV choice, whether those channels are broadcast stations, cable, pay-TV, or VCR. Together they represent a globalisation of the US pattern of audio-visual consumption in terms of both the overall hours spent consuming broadcast and non-broadcast TV, and the pivotal role now played by viewers in constructing their audio-visual viewing from the available sources. The development of distinct viewer repertoires - a function of demographics, access and channel choice - will proceed apace. In this context Boyd et al note that many Third World countries are now coming to have "viewing patterns similar to the seven-hour television days now spent by the average United States citizen." [51]

Similarly the global reality of the new TV viewer minimises the gate-keeping role of the nation-state to limit the flow and control of information and entertainment, and its consumption. Consequently the instruments of state intervention in communication are accordingly changing from limiting to controlling abundance. Accordingly state attention to video shifts away from cultural regulation towards market setting strategies with sales taxes, store licensing requirements, etc., and 'containment' regulations with child protection laws and censorship. In combination with competition from broadcast TV both can set effective limits to VCR growth and social impact. [52] Although the state's move from limiting to controlling abundance is leading to a commercialisation of the system, the state is not necessarily precluded from continuing to play an important role. Indeed the case of Brazil shows how military dictatorships and a commercially oriented TV service can work hand in glove to mutual advantage. [53]

Undoubtedly video has assisted considerably the recent trends to 'globalisation', privatisation and concentration in communication industries [54] - just as it has 'personalised', 'de-controlled' and 'de-centralised' TV for the viewer. Its reliance (along with the other new TV technologies) upon 'consumer sovereignty' dynamics is determining the shape of broadcast TV's accommodation and competitive response to its presence. In synergistic fashion, governmental decision-making in communication and other industry policy areas has also shifted from 'social policy' driven 'welfare state' priorities to 'consumer' driven 'competition state' priorities. [55] Acting in concert both should assist the further development, extention, coordination, and above all regularisation of global VCR markets in an emerging audio-visual mix whose shape and character is thought to be a consequence of "individual choices in the market" rather than "political choices" made by government appointees. [56]


Thanks to Bill Routt and John Hartley for their comments on earlier drafts of this article. This article should be regarded as a postscript to the work of Douglas Boyd, John Lent and Joseph Straubhaar cited below.

1. Screen Digest, November 1990, p. 249.

2. This phrase is the summatory title of Gladys D. and Oswald H. Ganley's study of the VCR's first decade. See Global Political Fallout: The VCR's First Decade, Program on Information Resources Policy, Harvard University (Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1987).

3. VCR rental outlets appear to begin as small business, so-called 'mom and pop' operations, but as VCR markets mature as they have in Australia, US and UK (each with VCR penetration levels close to 70%), significant video chains - some of them multinational - emerge to displace the smaller operator. In the resulting shake-out the number of VCR outlets contracts.

4. For an account of the Australian experience with pay-TV see Tim Dwyer, "Emerging Policies for Pay TV: Official Conceptions of Audience in Transition", Continuum, v. 4, n. 1 (1991).

5. See Ralph Negrine ed., Cable Television and the Future of Broadcasting (New York: St Martins Press, 1985).

6. See Ralph Negrine ed., Satellite Broadcasting (London: Croom Helm, 1987).

7. Ganley & Ganley's book is dedicated to charting these effects on a world scale in the period 1976-1985. The other principle study of international VCR dynamics is Douglas A. Boyd, Joseph D. Straubhaar, and John A. Lent, Videocasette Recorders in the Third World (New York: Longman, 1989). [Hereafter Boyd et al]. This deals with the period up till roughly 1987 and focuses on Asia, Latin America, the Carribean and the Arab world. They also include an extensive bibliography of readings relating to the VCR. Useful international material is also to be found in Manuel Alvarado ed., Video World-Wide (London: UNESCO and John Libbey, 1988); and Christine Ogan, "The Worldwide Cultural and Economic Impact of Video", in Mark Levy ed., The VCR Age: Home Video and Mass Communication (Newbury Park: Sage, 1989), pp. 230-251.

8. For a useful account of this dynamic in the US see Bruce Austin, "Videocassettes as an Ancillary Market", in Tino Balio ed., Hollywood in the Age of Television (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990). The Australian equivalent is Garry Maddox & David Court, The Home Video Industry (Sydney: Australian Film Commission, June 1989). For a European study see Marjan Flick, Karl Erik Gustafsson and Olav Vaagland, "Home Video", in Denis McQuail and Karen Siune eds., New Media Politics: Comparative Perspectives in Western Europe (London: Sage, 1986), pp. 88-99.

9. Ganley & Ganley, pp. 64-75.

10. Francois Chevaldonne notes that the "incompatibility of the standard product of the transnational corporations has tended to grow in several ways, for example, becoming more sexually permissive as Islamist-type pressures in the region grew. These various factors have produced a growing demand for programs tailored for the Arab market." See Francois Chevaldonne, "Globalization and Orientalism: the Case of TV Serials", Media, Culture and Society, v. 9 (1987), p. 145.

11. Boyd et al, pp. 69-91. A study of three Saudi Arabian cities is cited which disclosed that a majority of secondary students said they watched video material two hours per day (see p. 88). Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar and the United Arab Emirites were the fastest countries to reach 50% penetration. See Screen Digest, August 1990, p. 181.

12. Most research in this area tends to be audience research and as such does not focus on the organisation of a cultural market place. As a consequence the 'commerce in ethnicity' is remarkably underinvestigated. For an example of this audience research see Julia R. Dobrow, "Away from the Mainstream? VCRs and Ethnic Identity", in Levy ed., pp. 193-208.

13. Steven S. Wildman & Stephen E. Siwek, International Trade in Films and Television Programs (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Publishing, 1988), p. 103.

14. This figure was quoted as an accepted figure by Frederic Hirsch, vice president Homevideo and Pay-TV of the MPEAA. See "The international movie marketplace: mother lode, or just fool's gold?", Variety, 22-28 January, 1989, p.47.

15. Wildman & Siwek, p. 1.

16. Binod Agrawal, "India", in Alvarado ed., p. 92.

17. Agrawal, p. 84.

18. Ganley & Ganley, p. 66.

19. Ganley & Ganley, p. xi.

20. Ganley & Ganley, p. xi.

21. For their extended discussion of 'personalisation' and 'media decentralisation' see Boyd et al, pp. 265-273.

22. Boyd et al, p. 268.

23. Ganley & Ganley, p. xi.

24. Boyd et al, pp. 13, 34. A 1984 survey is later cited which claimed that three quarters of all video viewers were Chinese (see p. 113). By 1990 Malaysian VCR penetration was put at 41.2% of households with TV. See Screen Digest, November 1990, p. 250.

25. Ganley & Ganley devote an entire chapter to the role of the black market in VCR penetration. See Ganley & Ganley, pp. 33-44.

26. Ganley & Ganley, p. 120. This is for VCR possession and vending and was part of efforts to Islamicise the country through the purging of 'Western' cultural influences. The evidence Ganley & Ganley amass suggests widespread VCR penetration in Iran and a governmental reluctance to deal with its black market - itself a valuable source of foreign exchange.

27. Ganley & Ganley, p. 66.

28. For a discussion of Hollywood's international market and the importance of 'cultural differences' to its formation see Wildman & Siwek, pp. 13-97.

29. Wildman & Siwek, p. 104.

30. Further encouraging piracy is the important role that the 'black economy' plays in many Third World countries. Here the VCR could fit into an existing, technically 'illegal', well organised, and highly capitalised market structure with well developed facilities for circumventing import controls, customs barriers etc. In this context it might appear that tariffs and banning are an illogical response of governments. But they do 'make sense' to governments intent on attempting to either 'control' the media and flow of messages within a country or to protect their existing commercial broadcast market; and also to governments either attempting to curb expenditure on 'non-productive' imports or to gaining some national share from the sale of an overseas produced good, which otherwise would see valuable national savings going out of the country to multi-national manufacturers.

31. Boyd et al, p. 268.

32. Boyd et al, p. 269.

33. Ganley & Ganley, p. 89.

34. An interesting development with regard to 'timeliness' is the writing into copyright laws of a number of countries the stipulation that copyright protection is afforded to only those titles published in a local market within a month or so of publication in country of origin. In this way simultaneity and integration is being stipulated by states as a precondition for their enforcement of copyright control.

35. Maddox & Court's study of the Australian video industry is revealing here. They note that it was the US - not Australian - home video market which underpinned the financing of many Australian films from 1985-1987. Further while the video window generated 60% of revenues generated from 'movies' it contributed only 25% of the returns available to producers. Unlike the US where home video is the biggest source of producer revenues in Australia, the biggest source in this period was TV. These discrepencies are quite remarkable given the comparatively equivalent VCR penetration levels (approaching 70% in both countries) and competitive TV market. See Maddox & Court, p. 6.

36. See Kenneth Dyson, "The Debate about the Future of Broadcasting", in Kenneth & Peter Humphries eds., Broadcasting and the New Media Policies in Western Europe (London: RKP, 1988), pp. 62-91.

37. See Joseph D. Straubhaar, "Brazilian Television: the Decline of American Influence", Communication Research, v. 11, n. 2 (1984), pp. 221-240; there is no equivalent Australian account of this dynamic but see R.R. Walker, Communications (Melbourne: Landsdowne Press, 1967) and Albert Moran, Images and Industry (Sydney: Currency Press, 1985).

38. See S. Mattos, Domestic and Foreign Advertising in Television and Mass Media Growth: A Case Study of Brazil, PhD Thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1982.

39. This is a point made by Georgette Wang and Kuo-Jen Tsang in their paper "Indigenising Foreign Culture: the Case of Taiwan", International Communication Association, 1990 Dublin conference, 29 June 1990.

40. Austin, passim.

41. Maddox & Court, pp. 20-22.

42. Douglas Gomery, "Media Economics: Terms of Analysis", Critical Studies in Mass Communication, v. 6 (1989), p. 51.

43. "The Entertainment Industry", Survey, The Economist, 23/12/1989, p. 1.

44. Screen Digest, August 1990, p. 180.

45. Screen Digest, November 1990, p. 250.

46. Christine Ogan, "Media Imperialism and the Videocassette Recorder: the Case of Turkey", Journal of Communication, v. 38, n. 2 (1988), p. 100.

47. Boyd et al, p. 138.

48. Boyd et al, p. 267. As they put it: "VCRs may thus be contributing to what dependency writers have termed the internationalisation of the bourgeoisie - i.e., increasing the cultural, economic, and political ties of middle and upper classes not to their own countries, but to international cultural trends, multinational business, and foreign governments" (Ibid). See also Ogan, "Media Imperialism", pp. 102-103.

49. Boyd et al, p. 203-4. They also suggest that the degree to which this process occurs is dependent upon the extent to which commercial TV has been segmented by social class "which tends to broaden viewing options and reduce the need for VCRs" (see p. 191).

50. A couple of examples are worth citing here - a 1990 Australian video survey claimed substantial broadcast TV audience loss to video during non-ratings weeks when re-runs and well-worn movies are put to air with the value of video rental increasing by 52% (see Neil Shoebridge, "Shoebridge", Business Review Week, 6/7/1990); and a 1990 US survey claimed that 10% of TV homes are watching videos on Friday and Saturday nights - with 10% of the sample overall using the VCR so much that they hardly watch network TV at all (see Screen Digest, November, 1990, p. 257).

51. Boyd et al, p. 273.

52. "Rental Slips Hit Oz, UK and Most of Europe", Variety, 3/9/1990, p. 1.

53. Veronica A. de Lima, "The State, Television, and Political Power in Brazil", Critical Studies in Mass Communication, v. 5, n. 2 (1988), pp. 108-129.

54. Graham Murdock, "Redrawing the Map of the Communications Industries", in Marjorie Ferguson ed., Public Communication: the New Imperatives (London: Sage, 1990), pp. 3-15.

55. Peter Miller & Nikolas Rose, "Governing Economic Life", Economy & Society, v. 19, n. 1 (1990), pp. 23-27.

56. Ithiel de Sola Pool, Technologies of Freedom (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1984), p. 166. De Sola Pool was arguing for just such an outcome. But he also added some 23 pages earlier: "The slogan 'leave it to the market' has become a cliche of those who have a naive belief that one thereby avoids the need for political decisions. On the contrary, a market is not something that happens by itself. It is something crafted by laws; without them it cannot exist". (p. 143).

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