Exposure to foreign media content: A comparison of Mainland China and Hong Kong audiences

Mike Z. Yao As Mainland China becomes an increasingly globalized society, there are more opportunities for Mainland Chinese to be exposed to and interact with the outside world. However, the Chinese government still attempts to restrict foreign television programs, books, newspapers, Web sites, and other forms of media in an effort to control China's cultural life. Only a handful of foreign media companies have successfully gained access to China's domestic media market, and their operations are closely monitored by the Chinese government. Access to foreign media content inside China often relies on alternative channels such as the Internet, illegal satellite dishes, and pirated DVDs. An earlier study of four cities in Mainland China found that younger individuals who have higher levels of income, education, and English proficiency, and those with extensive social ties in foreign countries were more likely to be interested in foreign issues and to be exposed to foreign media content. While it is geographically, politically, and culturally attached to Mainland China, Hong Kong has a drastically different media market. Being a British colony for nearly a century, Hong Kong has adapted to the socio-economic traditions of the Great Britain, and has fully embraced a free market economy. Residents of Hong Kong can easily access various foreign media content through main stream outlets. Additionally, local media in Hong Kong often give extensive coverage to foreign issues due to Hong Kong's unique position as a global financial center. The similarities and differences between Hong Kong and Mainland China present a unique opportunity for a cross cultural comparison. The present study aims to compare the amount and pattern of exposure to foreign media content among Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong Chinese. Specifically, the influence of cultural, political, and economic globalization upon individuals' foreign media consumption are explored.