Latest Issue

What the world’s poor watch on TV

Is television an outpost of cultural imperialism? More than two billion people in poor countries now have access to a set. But, rather than envying the west, they are increasingly tuning in to local programmes

By Bella Thomas   January 2003

In 1999, an extremist group in Karachi launched a campaign against un-Islamic practices in Pakistan, where satellite television is popular. The most arresting stunt was the burning of a pile of television sets. The group, Tehrik-e-Insdad Munkirat, declared: “the gadgets are satanic devices which corrupt people and society.” It is not alone in thinking this.

Today America is threatened by a hatred that is inflamed by its seduction of television audiences across the world. Or so it is often said. “They hate us because they see endless pictures of our rich, sleazy, easy lives in the soap operas shown around…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect