Dr Jovan Kurbalija began the October advanced webinar ‘TV broadcasting and the impact of the CNN effect on diplomacy‘ by updating us on the outcome of 8th Internet Governance Forum held in Bali (Indonesia), 22-25 October. He also explained more about Brazil’s joint initiative with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to organize a summit on Internet Governance in May 2014 in Brazil, as an important forum development.
Since its invention in 1926, and the beginning of commercial use six years later by BBC, television became a main news and entertainment medium, and it will keep that position for many years to come. The golden years of television during the 1970s and 1980s saw the development of ‘prime time TV’ as a new, real-time way of addressing a wide audience as an integral part of our daily routines. For the first time, we were able to see and hear the world news as it happened. With this in mind, countries and diplomats started to use television as a two-way channel: first as a quick source of information, and second, as a powerful tool for public diplomacy, to convey their messages.
This possibility for impact on the shaping of public opinion was most prominent during the first Gulf war 1991-1992 (Iraq) when the cable news network, CNN had reporters and cameras on the ground, reporting this conflict ‘live’, over television. In this way, CNN helped shaped the public opinion on the situation on the field, and influenced decisions on further military actions. This strong presence in a Middle East conflict opened a space for the development of more local broadcasting agencies, such as Al Jazeera, which try to balance the dissemination of information.
As we have learned in our previous webinars, a breakthrough by one technology does not exclude another. Nowadays, television is more and more broadcast via the Internet, and the use of global video repository sites as YouTube may make it even easier to evolve visual news and media to a new higher level — or to be bypassed, and to lose the power and place of being the main news media, to a new technology such as the Internet.
Television is still powerful and important in today’s diplomacy. Indeed, television is important in shaping public opinion, and the general public still relies on traditional television channels as a principal source of information.