The transcultural localisation of television content flows is prevalent in the media industry today . Remediation and re-adaptations of programs tend to cater better to an audience when produced in the same nation, often addressing and stimulating cultural themes and issues of relevance. This therefore arouses the notion of ‘The Format’, the format arises when a program developed in one country “can be reformatted in different territories and the local producer and broadcaster can access a template that has already withstood two rounds of R&D – first, to survive development and trialing before broadcasting executives; and secondly, further testing before viewing audiences” (Keane and Moran, 2008).
This is evident in the UK television program ‘Shameless’ which was created in 2004 and first aired in Britain. Seven years later progressed the remaking of classic British narrative, highlighting the same characters but adapting them, the stories and representations in slightly different ways. While most Americans won’t have watched Paul Abbott’s Shameless, a drama about a family with a drunk patriarch who live on a Greater Manchester council estate. However the Chicago-based alternative has since been nominated for a Golden Globe in 2015 and multiple Primetime Emmy Awards.
The writing differs between each version where humor and drama is translated drastically diverse from one another. When British comedy or drama idealises social deprivation, most of the time it’s charming and daft, so audiences are happy to suspend their disbelief. The US show emphasises situations a little bit more uncomfortable and disingenuous manner, where US television seems to paint a more sympathetic image of a middle class family.
The successful sitcom ‘The Office’ first adapted within the UK has since been introduced and remade in various countries, with an overall viewership of hundreds of millions worldwide. With this, the German version ‘Stomberg’ of the mockumentary comes to light, appealing to foreign collectives though abiding by a similar structure of the UK original.
Cultural Proximity is the intuitively appealing notion that people will gravitate toward media from their own culture (Ksiazek & Webster, 2008). In this context it indicates the way that people recognize themselves in local television, it acts as a catalyst that drives content across global barriers, interacting with diverse ideologies and values. This notion works hand in hand with ‘Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions’, where he defines culture as “the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes one group or category of people from another” (Hofstede, 1980).
These cultural/value dimensions can be seen why different nations prefer different content: The cultural dimensions should explain differences in media evaluation better because they measure underlying values.
Power distance is defined as the extent to which less powerful members of a society accept that power is distributed unequally. This can be depicted through the characters interaction with one another and their superiors
Uncertainty Avoidance is defined as the extent to which people feel threatened by ambiguous situations and create beliefs and institutions in response to these.
- Individualism/Collectivism holds one’s will to be loosely tied with a group/society on one spectrum and the need to be associated with a group/society on the other.
- Masculinity/Femininity holds the value placed on things, power, assertiveness, performance and ambition, while high femininity has a focus on people, quality of life, and nurturance.
Because of cross culture media flows, audiences from different nations desire different outcomes from content such as television programs. Cultural Proximity outlines the tendency for foreign audiences to be more inclined to more comfortable representations of stories, where Hofstede’s dimensions can be seen to be addressed before publicizing the remediation of existing shows to new viewers.
Hofstede, G. 1980. Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work Related Values. (1 ed.). Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE Publications.
Ksiazek, T. and Webster, J 2008, The Role of Language in Patterns of Polarization and Multicultural Fluency. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Volume: 52, No: 3, pp.485-503.
Trepte, S. 2008, Cultural proximity in TV entertainment: An eight-country study on the relationship of nationality and the evaluation of U.S. prime-time fiction. Communications, Volume: 33, No: 1 , pp.1-25.