National identity and media system dependency in Belize


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National identity and media system dependency in Belize
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x, 269 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Elliott, Larry S., 1949-
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Journalism and Communications thesis, Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Journalism and Communications -- UF
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1995.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 257-268).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Larry S. Elliott.
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University of Florida
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Copyright 1995


Larry S. Elliott


I gratefully acknowledge the contributions of my

dissertation committee. Each brought a special talent to

this project that proved especially helpful. I thank my

co-chairs, Dr. John Wright and Dr. Michael Leslie, for their

patience, research suggestions, proofreading, and continued

encouragement. Dr. Paul Smeyak's dissertation on Guyana

provided a useful guide for many of the issues facing a mass

media researcher working in another country.

Dr. Kim Walsh-Childers offered insightful advice on

research among adolescents, delivered rapid and detailed

editing, and clarified several data analysis questions. Dr.

Terry McCoy encouraged an interest in Central America and

gave me a look at how a truly excellent teacher operates in

the classroom. His Latin American expertise led to the wise

warning that a study of national identity is a trip up a

slippery slope, but he went along anyway.

I also acknowledge the help of my fellow doctoral

student David Halpern, who was always there to discuss data

analysis techniques. He greatly assisted in the process of

learning by doing. Without his time and effort, the

finished product would have been much more frustrating and

time consuming.

I am very grateful for the help of the people of

Belize, especially the Ministry of Education. The

cooperation of the government of Belize and the fine young

people who are the future of their nation made the work

there much easier.

Finally, I owe a special debt of gratitude to my wife

Toni Elliott, who brought me into the computer age three

years ago and provided the support that made this work

possible. From her computer assistance in Texas to handing

out questionnaires in Belize, to her dissertation help in

Florida, she has continued to be my most important source of

support and my best friend.

This dissertation is dedicated to my mother, Bailey

Elliott, my first teacher, who worked to instill a love of

words, learning and excellence.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ........................................ iii

ABSTRACT....... ....... ...... ............................ ix


1 INTRODUCTION .................................... 1

Statement of the Problem ........................ 3
The Arrival of Belize Television................. 5
Belize's "Television Generation"................. 8
Rationale for the Study ......................... 11
Summary ......................................... 14

2 BELIZE MEDIA .................................... 17

The Influence of National Independence........... 18
Press Theory and Belize ......................... 20
The Media Climate in Belize ..................... 22
Summary ......................................... 43

3 LITERATURE REVIEW ............................... 46

National Identity as Communications Strategy.... 47
National Identity and Young People............... 59
Media Dependency Theory ......................... 64
International Mass Media Studies ................ 77
Summary ......................................... 97
The Research Question ........................... 98
The Research Hypotheses ......................... 99

4 METHOD .......................................... 103

Survey Design ................................... 103
The Survey Sample ................................. 106
Instrumentation................................. .. 115
Procedures ...................................... 127
Data Analysis ................................... 132
Summary ......................................... 137

5 RESULTS ......................................... 139

General Sample Description ...................... 140
Media Access and Exposure ....................... 145
Media Dependency Measures ....................... 159
The National Identity Index ..................... 162
Additional Identity and Dependency Measures..... 165
Program Preferences............................. 174
Program Ideas..................................... 176
Tests of Hypotheses ............................. 179
Additional Analyses............................. 194
Summary ......................................... 207

6 DISCUSSION ...................................... 212
Summary of Main Findings ........................ 213
Implications of the Findings..................... 232
Conclusion ...................................... 236
Future Research................................. 241


A PERMISSION FORM ................................. 245
B STUDENT ASSENT SCRIPT ........................... 247
C QUESTIONNAIRE ................................... 248
D MAP OF BELIZE ................................... 255
E MAP OF CENTRAL AMERICA .......................... 256

REFERENCES ............................................ 257

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................... 269


Table page

1 Belize radio stations--1995 .................... 35

2 Belize television stations--1995............... 41

3 Belize ethnic groups ......................... 108

4 Ethnic composition of the survey region........ 109

5 Population distribution by district............. 141

6 Survey sample ethnicity ....................... 142

7 Sample distribution and characteristics........ 144

8 Electronic media access and exposure............ 146

9 Print media use................................ 152

10 Radio and television content interests......... 156

11 Radio and television news preferences.......... 158

12 Dependency on mass media and other sources.... 160

13 Reactions to the loss of information sources.. 162

14 National identity index mean scores............. 163

15 Quality of life............................... .. 167

16 Desire to seek opportunities outside Belize... 169

17 National and global identity .................. 172

18 Television preferences by country of origin... 173

19 Favorite television programs .................. 175

20 T-Tests of lifestyle opportunity choices....... 192

21 Regression model predicting identity........... 196


22 A media dependency model predicting identity.. 202

23 Media source factor loadings................... 205

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Larry S. Elliott

August, 1995

Chair: John Wright
Cochair: Michael Leslie
Major Department: Journalism and Communications

This research, based on media dependency theory,

examined associations between media exposure--dependency and

feelings of national identity among young people in Belize,

Central America. The researcher used a cross-sectional

survey design to collect data from 424 students at six

secondary schools. The survey measured exposure to and

dependency on television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and

interpersonal sources of information.

Belize was chosen to test relationships between media

and national identity because national independence and

satellite-delivered U.S. television arrived almost

simultaneously in 1981. The former British colony, where

English is the official language, had no television industry

at the time. The survey sample represented the first

"television generation" in Belize.


Survey participants reported watching about four hours

of U.S. television daily, but data analysis found no

significant correlations between their television exposure

and feelings of national identity.

Correlation analysis found a significant association

between exposure to Belize magazines and national identity

as measured on a 13-item "national identity index." Those

with higher exposure to magazines published in Belize also

were more likely to report stronger feelings of Belizean

national identity.

Correlation analysis indicated a statistically

significant positive relationship between strength of

national identity and frequency of contact with friends or

relatives living outside Belize. Those most likely to hear

from people in other countries were most likely to evaluate

Belize more positively, perhaps because interpersonal

sources passed along news that made Belize look good by


A multiple regression model predicting strength of

national identity feelings indicated that a survey

participant's positive comparison of life in Belize with

life in the United States was the most likely predictor of a

strong national identity. The survey results indicate that

exposure to some media and interpersonal information sources

correlates with feelings of national identity in Belize.


This research examines associations between feelings of

national identity and mass media exposure and dependency in

the Central American nation of Belize. One goal is to

determine if heavy users of foreign media such as the

country's satellite-imported cable television feel less

"Belizean" than their fellow citizens who rely less on

imported television and more on local media for news and

entertainment. In an age of worldwide satellite television,

exploring some of the ways mass media may help build

"global" rather than national or local identifications can

have implications beyond the scope of this research.

In the situation described here, six key factors

indicate a possible relationship between media and national

identity: (1) Belize gained its independence from Great

Britain in 1981, the same year U.S. television arrived in

the country; (2) Belize has never had a national television

service of its own; (3) the official language of Belize is

English, the language of the U.S. programs coming into the

country; (4) many Spanish-speaking Belizeans also watch

television from Mexico; (5) "local" or Belizean television

produces very little programming in comparison with the

available Mexican and U.S. programs; and (6) government

efforts to build a "Belizean national identity" appear to

clash with a very pervasive foreign television system.

Visual media have a history of serving political

movements and building national loyalties. Leni

Reifenstahl, the director of the 1935 Nazi documentary

Triumph of the Will, said Adolph Hitler was the first

national leader to realize that visual communication is

particularly well suited to molding a "powerful national

experience" (Barnouw, 1974, p. 103). In more modern times,

a typical early goal of the organizers of a coup d'etat is a

takeover of government television and radio stations. The

belief shared by Hitler and many modern revolutionaries is

that mass media can lend legitimacy to government.

At the time of its independence from Great Britain on

September 21, 1981, the multiracial new nation of Belize was

not likely to be mistaken for the Nazi Party's vision for

Germany in 1935, but government leaders did have a clear

vision of their national identity. The People's United

Party (PUP) of Prime Minister George Price helped draft a

constitution, write a national anthem, and design a national

flag bearing the catchy Latin motto sub umbra floreo--"I

flourish in the shade"--perhaps appropriate for a sweltering

country whose main industries were timber and sugar cane.

In September, 1981, government-operated Radio Belize and the

nation's privately owned newspapers hailed independence and


free expression in a new Belize. The few television sets in

Belize at the time all were tuned to stations in other

countries. Belize had no national television service and no

local stations to report on the event.

The former colony of British Honduras had developed the

bare outlines of a plan for national television service as

independence approached. The People's United Party (PUP),

which would take control of the new nation, had promised

television service by the date of the next elections,

expected in 1984 (Brogdon, 1986). As promised by the PUP,

television had arrived in Belize in 1984, but not as the

government had hoped or predicted. Government plans to

provide a national television service for the country's

citizens had not materialized. The television voice of

Belize throughout the 1980s carried an American accent, and

it has remained overwhelmingly American to this day. In

1995, satellite services provided up to 54 channels--mostly

American--on cable television systems in Belize City, and

from 10 to 35 channels in most other parts of the country.

Statement of the Problem

The major goal of this study is to determine whether

young people's sense of national identity in Belize is

associated with media exposure and dependency. Belizeans

listen to very popular government-affiliated radio stations

and read a variety of heavily political weekly newspapers.

American television is just one of the factors that may

affect media exposure and dependency because it may cause

young people to spend less time with Belizean media. In

addition, media exposure and dependency may have a very low

association with national identity in Belize.

Perhaps the mere presence and popularity of U.S.

television programs does not affect the national identity of

Belizean audiences, who may enjoy U.S. programs without

feeling that they are "alternative Americans." On the other

hand, young Belizeans may become dependent upon their mostly

American programs for socialization skills, information

about their world, and an orientation to their place in the

world. For example, one Canadian study found that young

Canadians who spent more time with American television were

more likely to perceive themselves as Americans and less

likely to perceive themselves as Canadians (Barnett &

McPhail, 1980). The stated problem in this research is

measuring media exposure and dependency and determining

their relationships to feelings of unity, national loyalty,

and Belizean nationality, summed up as "national identity."

Many developing countries use the mass media to build

loyalties to government and communicate with disparate

ethnic or language groups. The history of U.S. television

programs in Belize illustrates the importance of a rapid and

responsive government policy to regulate mass media in a

developing nation. Belize did not have a clear and

enforceable television policy at the time of its

independence. The national government also could not make

full use of its own media for national identity building

because it was handicapped by a lack of money to finance a

national television network. At a time when the newly

independent nation was working to build a "Belizean"

identity during the 1980s, practically all of its television

programming was produced by a foreign country.

The Arrival of Belize Television

During the summer months of 1981, an American

expatriate living in Belize City began selling program

decoders for a television service that would rebroadcast

satellite television from the United States. The first

satellite service went out to only 24 families, but a dozen

similar businesses popped up across Belize within the next

five years (Lent, 1989). Satellite rebroadcasts of U.S.

programming could reach about 75% of the population by the

mid-1980s (Mahler, 1987). The rapid spread of satellite

television coverage seemed to catch the government of Belize

by surprise. While the Belizean government was engaged in

nation building in the 1980s, entrepreneurs built a Central

American broadcasting system serving up U.S. television.

With satellite dishes pirating U.S. network feeds and

superstation broadcasts, young Belizeans became Chicago Cubs

fans and enjoyed Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Lakers

basketball. International television became part of the

local culture of Belize. Within a dozen years of U.S.

television's arrival, a Belizean newspaper editorial

complained that a school football match had been called off

because several players had stayed home to watch a

basketball playoff game on television (Wilk, 1993). A

national debate got underway over the benefits and problems

associated with U.S. television, and especially its

potential influence on young people. That debate has posed

some questions this research is designed to answer.

The first Prime Minister of Belize, PUP leader George

Price, believed that a feeling of national identity was

important in a new nation that included several ethnic and

language groups. During campaign appearances, the

charismatic Price evoked a "Central American destiny"

(Fernandez, 1989, p. 60). Price served two terms as Prime

Minister and lost twice to the opposition United Democratic

Party (UDP) of current Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel.

Price, who claims he has never owned a television, is

not enthusiastic about the medium's potential for improving

Belizean society. He opposed a television service in the

late 1970s, believing that television would show a world

unattainable for the average Belizean. When his party

endorsed a television service, he hoped it would be used for

development journalism, education, and other services that

would promote what he saw as the public good.

Price believes radio is an effective medium for the

kind of communication that promotes nation building. He has

said he reads local newspapers and listens to radio to find

out about national affairs (G. C. Price, personal

communication, January 7, 1992). If Belizeans shared

Price's dream of what their country should be, they might

reject foreign television in favor of media products with a

more nationalistic flavor, but Belizeans seem to enjoy both

their national radio service and the window on the world

provided by U.S. television. With an estimated television

penetration of 75% by 1987, most Belizeans enjoyed daily

U.S. television as well as the ubiquitous accents of Radio

Belize in English, Spanish, and Creole.

National radio and television broadcasting give a

country a "national voice" even if that voice includes a

variety of ethnic and language programs, as Belizean

national radio does. The two main sources of program

material for television in Belize are the United States and

Mexico, although Belizean material is beginning to be used.

In 1995, some Belizean viewers could choose between two

locally produced, half-hour evening newscasts reporting on

events from around Belize.

Just how many Belizeans see these programs is not

known, not even by the people who produce them. Audience

survey techniques are quite unsophisticated in Belize. One

television station's managing director who said he had done

some public opinion polling in Belize reported having a

"good idea" of how far his station's tower transmits

programs to the immediate area around Belize City, but no

highly accurate estimates of total viewers (S. Krohn,

personal communication, January 18, 1995).

Despite some increases in locally originated programs,

the relatively small amount of television material produced

within Belize represents a national television "voice" that

at present is little more than a whisper. Channel 5 and

Channel 7 in Belize City present daily half-hour newscasts,

so the presence of "national" television is growing, but

these newscasts cannot be received in all parts of Belize.

Television is widely available, but the thousands of hours

Belizean teenagers have spent watching television have been

largely a journey outside their country and culture. Among

the questions asked by this research is whether spending a

great amount of time with foreign television weakens

feelings of national identity by creating a "television

identity" or cultural identity with another country.

Belize's "Television Generation"

Young people were chosen for this research because they

are the first "television generation" in Belize as well as

the first generation of post-colonial Belizeans. In this

research, young people are defined as those between the ages

of 12 and 21. Individuals in this age group face a decision

about whether to stay in Belize or migrate to another

country after completing their education because Belize

lacks a four-year, liberal arts university system and

suffers from high unemployment among young people.

It is no exaggeration to state that this "television

generation" will shape the future of Belize; an estimated

70% of the country's population in 1985 was younger than 24

(Central Statistical Office, 1985). Most young people in

Belize have been exposed to a decade or more of American

television. Their exposure occurred during government

efforts to build a grassroots sense of national identity and

pride in "being Belizean." The larger, more immediate, and

perhaps more vivid world opened up by television may

interfere with the process of identification with their own


A strong sense of national identity has been a

foundation of powerful states throughout history. As the

historian Will Durant (1944) explained in his study of the

lengthy lifespan of the Roman Republic (508-49 B.C.):

"Perhaps it endured because of the proud patriotism

formed in the home, the school, the temple, the army, the

Assembly, and the Senate. Devotion to the state marked the

zenith of the Republic (p. 35).

Of course, the Romans of the Republic had no television

to interfere with their devotion to the state. In more

modern times, those who hope to shape or change conceptions

of national identity also hope to control all the elements

of how national identity is portrayed, including media


portrayals of national life. Egypt's Minister of Education

reports that Islamic fundamentalists are trying to promote a

pan-Islamic identity by barring students from singing the

Egyptian national anthem and preventing them from saluting

the Egyptian flag. According to the minister, Dr. Hussein

Kamel Baha Al-Din, the fundamentalists disapprove of drama,

media, the theater and the arts. "There was to be no

[Egyptian] national identity--only an Islamic one," the

minister said of the continuing fundamentalist pressure on

national traditions in the 1990s (Weaver, 1995, p. 64).

The same type of concerns about media impacts on

national identity have been heard for many years in Belize.

Influential Belizeans have said that television is a

powerful source of foreign influence with a possibly

negative impact on Belizean life. In the 1980s, Said Musa,

the Belizean minister of Education, Sports and Culture,

worried about the influence of U.S. television as he

addressed a UNESCO conference:

Today we experience the phenomenon of having
direct U.S. satellite TV broadcasts in our homes
24 hours a day. This explosion of television
and its cultural implications is thrusting upon
Belizeans an awareness of the opportunities
presented while at the same time challenging us
with an urgent responsibility to ensure the
integrity of our culture. (Bolland, 1986, p. 63)

Musa's statement indicates a belief in television's

power to portray opportunities not available to many

Belizean viewers. Foreign television pictures of the world

beyond Belize often show the attractive opportunities the


minister worried about in the 1980s as a threat to Belizean

national culture. The object of this research was to

collect information from Belizean young people about their

media exposure, media preferences for information, and media

dependencies in an effort to assess the impact of their

media use on feelings of national identity.

Rationale for the Study

The rationale for this study was to develop a better

understanding of the relationship between media--foreign

media in particular--and national identity among young

people in a developing country. It was necessary to always

keep in mind that local and national media also play a role

in socialization and that the measurable personal influences

of all mass media may be weak and subject to varying

interpretations depending on the variables measured (Potter,

1994). Despite these challenges, research on mass media and

national identity relationships in a developing country

offers a productive examination of communication theories

such as media imperialism in former colonial countries

(e.g., Schiller, 1989).

If nothing else, global television may teach young

people a visual language every viewer must learn to gain

meaning from television (Altheide & Snow, 1979). How much

audiences learn from foreign television and how foreign

messages influence individual viewers are questions many

leaders in developing nations would like to have answered.

For instance, the great populations of China, India, and

Bangladesh are seeing increasing amounts of foreign

television content in the 1990s, especially from the United

States (Auletta, 1993; Foote, 1993).

One anthropologist who has studied Central America for

more than 20 years believes television has made the world

outside Belize accessible in a way that Belize Radio and the

nation's weekly newspapers have not. According to his

research, satellite television created a sense of real time

participation in many events beyond the borders of Belize

and a sense of citizenship in what may be called the "global

television world."

The growing popularity of foreign television has some

Belizeans claiming that "our national identity is

disappearing" (Wilk, 1989, p. 10). According to this view

of media use, Belizeans enjoy only the option of turning

their televisions on or off; all other media choices already

are media-supplied. This conclusion by some Belizeans seems

difficult to support in a country where local radio is

extremely popular and newspaper sales are high in relation

to most developed countries. For example, one survey found

that 96% of young people reported that Belize radio stations

were their favorite radio sources (Elliott, 1992).

The true impact of foreign television in Belize is

unknown. Media research in Belize has ignored the issue of

television's interaction with national identity creation and

maintenance. Studies of Belizean public opinion about

television have not included national identity as a key

dependent variable although a few studies measured

constructs such as desire to buy foreign products or to

emigrate to the United States (Oliveira, 1986; Roser,

Snyder, & Chaffee, 1986).

The time spent with television may create a more

attractive picture of the rest of the world and a less

attractive picture of Belize and its culture. On the other

hand, television may give young people in Belize a view of a

much more dangerous and frightening world when compared with

the relatively peaceful life they share in Belize. Still

another possibility is that young Belizeans may use

television to build an even stronger sense of national

identity by sharing and discussing information they have

seen on television and comparing it with their own

experiences. Without empirical evidence, assuming that

television is a positive or negative force in national

identity is only speculation.

To examine these issues, the key variables measured in

this study are (1) the amounts of individual exposure to and

dependency on newspaper, magazine, radio, television, and

interpersonal sources of information both from within Belize

and from outside the country, and (2) the strength of a

sense of national identity, the criterion variable for this

study. Measuring exposure and dependency patterns for both

Belize and foreign media creates an opportunity to compare

the media relationships of young people who are locally

oriented versus those who may see themselves as globally



Foreign television, especially the U.S. programs that

are pervasive in Belize, may weaken the national identity of

young Belizeans by offering a rosy portrayal of life

elsewhere. On The Cosby Show, for example, a middle-class

black family enjoys a very comfortable and materialistic

life that some Belizean young people may believe is the

prevailing standard in the United States. On the other

hand, television may portray a more dangerous and

frightening world outside Belize that strengthens young

people's positive feelings about their country.

Negative information about the United States may arrive

in the form of either television news or entertainment

programs. As an example, the very popular and highly rated

television series Roots portrayed the struggle of a black

family enslaved by whites, emphasizing the historic conflict

between black and white people in the American South. U.S.

movies such as In the Heat of the Night also focus on racial

conflicts between white and black Americans. Even the daily

news broadcasts to Belize of the O.J. Simpson trial

emphasized present day U.S. racial conflicts.


American television entertainment programs present both

a positive and negative picture of ethnic conflict rather

than the cooperative ethnic policy stressed by the Belizean

national government and written into the constitution of

Belize. U.S. television news broadcasts also present a

variety of pictures of economic and educational

opportunities in the United States. Which picture of life

outside Belize are Belizean young people most likely to

accept and how do information sources, both interpersonal

and mass media sources, correlate with feelings of national

or "global" identity?

In this research, very positive feelings of national

identity are expected to reflect greater commonality with

Belize than with other countries. Stronger feelings of

"being Belizean" are expected from those who rely heavily on

Belize radio and newspapers for information than from those

who are heavily television reliant. It is important to

remember that foreign television programs do not operate in

a vacuum in Belize. Other media and interpersonal sources

of information also play key roles in shaping national


Viewers in the northern part of the country can receive

television programs from Mexico, while some viewers in

southern Belize can receive programs from Guatemala and

Honduras. Young people also read U.S. newspapers and

magazines and publications from neighboring Central American


countries. They also communicate with relatives and friends

in these countries, including the United States.

This research will measure the media exposure, media

uses, media dependencies, and feelings of national identity

among young people in Belize. The survey respondents have

spent their lives watching mostly U.S. television, while

growing up in the new nation of Belize, listening to Belize

radio, and reading newspapers from Belize. The object of

this research is to compare the associations between both

foreign and national media and feelings of national



An outline of the media climate in Belize at the time

of this research provides a basis for understanding the

hypothesized relationships between media and national

identity that will be proposed later. Predictor, or

independent, variables in this research include individual

exposure to and dependency on newspapers, magazines, radio,

television, and interpersonal sources of information from

within and outside of Belize. The criterion variable of

national identity is defined and discussed thoroughly in the

review of literature that follows this chapter.

This section is not intended as a complete history of

the media in Belize, but as a guide to the regulatory

climate and media mix leading up to 1995. Belizean media

did not arrive overnight, so some discussion of the

development of newspapers, magazines, radio, and television

is necessary to give context to this research. An

examination of events leading up to the Belize Broadcasting

and Television Act of 1983 seems particularly important in

understanding how U.S. television programs quickly dominated

Belize broadcasting.

Even the casual observer of broadcast regulation can

appreciate how the writing of a regulatory framework for

television two years after the arrival of foreign programs

exemplifies government reaction rather than carefully

planned action. The rapid spread of television around the

country before regulations could be written demonstrates how

developing countries can be overwhelmed by what has been

called a "global American electronic invasion" (Schiller,

1970, p. 79).

The Influence of National Independence

The Belizean government's slow reaction to the sudden

appearance of television can be explained in part by the

near simultaneous arrival of independence and foreign

programming. The new government had to deal with a wide

range of important issues; broadcast regulation was not in

the forefront of the national consciousness when

independence came in 1981. Government inaction in

regulating television service appeared to give a silent

blessing to private entrepreneurs who continued to buy

equipment and expand cable services in the early 1980s

(Brogdon, 1986). By the time the Belizean government got

involved in broadcast regulation aimed at television, the

idea of a government-operated television service along the

lines of Radio Belize had all but ceased to exist.

Understanding the Belize media climate in 1995 also

requires an appreciation of the popularity and pervasiveness

of radio, especially government-operated Radio Belize and

Friends FM. Radio Belize became a national institution in a

country with no national newspaper, no daily newspapers, and

a poor network of roads that made internal travel difficult.

Radio was an obvious and inexpensive solution to many mass

communication problems. In the 29 years between its

beginnings and the arrival of national independence, Radio

Belize provided emergency information for people in remote

areas, announced deaths and personal messages across the

country, and provided news, music, and entertainment in

English, Spanish, Creole, and Mayan dialects. By the early

1970s, the number of radios in Belize was greater than the

number of households and radio was a very popular national

voice (Setzekorn, 1981).

Finally, the rapid arrival of satellite television from

the United States, combined with the unchecked expansion of

local cable systems in an unregulated market, added a very

popular and exotically foreign flavor to the media mix in

Belize. The modern forces of technology and private

enterprise moved into a country with a culture steeped in

tradition and top-down colonial rule. The arrival of

American satellite television in a nation with poor

infrastructure, many isolated villages, and a largely

colonial culture brought along the clash of modern and

traditional values commonly observed in developing countries

around the world.

In a nation where neither radio nor newspapers used any

of the world's major newswire services, television threw

open a sharply visual window to major world events. The

young people of Belize began to share the same television

programs and visual culture as their contemporaries in the

United States. Evidence of a change in taste toward

American popular culture is found among Belizean high school

students in 1995 who enjoy Chicago Bulls games on cable

television and ask American visitors about the progress of

the O.J. Simpson trial.

Press Theory and Belize

Press theories commonly include perspectives on how

national media reflect the social and political systems in

place within the country under study (Altachull, 1984;

Lowenstein & Merrill, 1990; Picard, 1983; Siebert, Peterson,

& Schramm, 1956; Sussman, 1983). One of the earliest media

theory systems classified media as either authoritarian,

libertarian, social responsibility, or Soviet Communist

(Siebert et al., 1956). Belize fits within the libertarian

tradition of private ownership of a press with its rights

guaranteed by law. The same statement could have been made

at the time of Belizean independence.

Oliveira (1990) said the climate of laissez-faire

relations between government and the press in Belize

suggests a combination of the libertarian and social

responsibility models described by Seibert et al. (1956),

but he concluded that the libertarian model best fits the

media in Belize. Long before independence in 1981, Belize

followed a democratic, constitutional path, with the

introduction of universal adult suffrage in 1954 and a

ministerial system in 1960 (Fernandez, 1989). The country

formally adopted an internal self-government constitution in

1964, followed by independence 17 years later.

Belize in 1995 was a constitutional monarchy, with the

British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, serving as head of

state. The queen is represented by a governor-general who

appoints a prime minister from within the House of

Representatives. The governor-general appoints the prime

minister on the basis of that person's ability to command a

majority of the members of the House, but in practice the

prime minister is the leader of the majority party.

With a government consisting of a popularly elected

House of Representatives and a relatively balanced two-party

system, Belize represents stable democratic traditions in an

area where democracies have a somewhat checkered history.

Central America reflects a tradition of coups, military

leadership, and great disparities between rich and poor, but

Belize presents a picture of stability (Fernandez, 1989).

The constitutional guarantees of free expression, assembly,

and association in Belize are among the criteria used to

assess the strength of democracy in Latin American countries

(Johnson & Kelly, 1986). Belize measures up very well as a

democratic country according to these criteria, which also

include the relative freedom of Belizean mass media.

The press in Belize has a history of partisanship, but

it is free to criticize the government. Publishers seem to

enjoy excoriating government figures, even at the risk of

appearing biased to their readers (Harmon, 1988). Radio has

been dominated by the government-operated Broadcasting

Corporation of Belize, but a few privately owned stations

began to appear in the 1990s. Television began as a

freewheeling entrepreneurial activity operating with few

government restrictions and ineffective enforcement of

existing rules (Weaver, 1993). On the whole, very few

restrictions on media ownership exist, and media in Belize

function within the libertarian press tradition.

The Media Climate in Belize

In 1995, Belize offered a media-rich environment to a

highly literate audience. National literacy was estimated

at 93% (World Almanac, 1995) and most Belizeans enjoyed easy

access to television, radio, newspapers, and a few Belizean

magazines. In a developing country with a relatively low

annual per capital gross domestic product of $1,635 (U.S.),

the average Belizean was not wealthy when compared with the

typical citizen in neighboring Mexico, where economic

conditions were somewhat better ($3,600 annual GDP).

However, the typical Belizean could take pride in being

slightly better off than a citizen living across the western

border in Guatemala ($1,300 annual GDP), or a few miles to

the south in nearby Honduras ($1,090 annual GDP).

Despite this apparent poverty and a weak national

economy, Belize had at least 18 television and cable

services by the late 1980s, an average of one television

station for every 9,000 viewers, and one of the highest

rates of VCR ownership in the Western Hemisphere (Lent,

1990, 1991). In 1990, the nation's 209,000 citizens owned

an estimated 109,000 radios and 31,000 televisions, about

one television for every seven Belizeans (Europa World Year

Book, 1994). In 1994, Belize had nearly 21,000 telephones,

an average of one telephone for every 10 people, an INTELSAT

satellite earth station capable of receiving messages from

around the world, a shortwave station, six AM radio

stations, five PM stations, and a Voice of America relay

station broadcasting in both Spanish and English (CIA World

Factbook, 1994; Europa World Year Book, 1994).

No daily newspapers were published in Belize in 1995,

but citizens had access to several privately owned weeklies.

The weekly papers usually lined up either for or against one

of Belize's political parties. Magazines were less

plentiful than newspapers. Magazines about Belize typically

were published either by the government or by private

interests in the United States. Some American magazines

such as Time and Cosmopolitan could be found, but only after

some searching. Newsstands in Belize were rare; the weekly


papers were distributed by street vendors or sold over the

counter in stores that stocked only one or two stacks of



Modern day media development in Belize began with the

foundation of the weekly newspaper Belize Billboard in 1947

by George Price, who later became the nation's first Prime

Minister. Price used the newspaper as a platform to attack

colonial policies, promote his General Workers Union (GWU)

and assist in his political campaigns; he was first elected

to the Belize City Council in 1947 (Bolland, 1986). The

Belize Billboard began a tradition of extremely aggressive

partisan newspapers that continues in the newspapers

published today. The Belize Billboard became a daily in

1950 and an outspoken voice for the People's United Party

(PUP), emphasizing pro-American, pro-free enterprise, and

strongly anti-colonial policies (Oliveira, 1990).

The Belize Billboard ceased its association with the

PUP in 1956 and served as a critic of PUP policies until it

stopped publishing in 1973. The People's United Party soon

established a successor to the Belize Billboard, called The

Belize Times, in 1959. During the 1980s, the number of

weekly newspapers fluctuated between five and seven at any

given time, but these papers covered events from sharply

differing political viewpoints, serving mainly as political

organs (Barry, 1989). The Reporter claimed to be


independent, but generally supported positions of the PUP's

main opposition, the United Democratic Party (UDP) while

Amandala served as the voice of the Black Power Movement in

Belize (Oliveira, 1990).

Each paper has a history of holding to a strongly

political viewpoint, engaging in shrill name calling and

personal attacks. As an example, the British governor

ordered the arrest of the editors of The Sentinel in 1978

after the paper named him "asshole of the month" (Lent,

1989, p. 16). The seemingly unrestrained political rhetoric

has resulted in low press credibility among readers (Harmon,


By the 1980s, one public opinion survey of media use

and trust found newspapers were the least trusted

communication medium in Belize. Only 6% of respondents said

they trusted newspapers most, as compared with 25% who said

they trusted radio most and 54% who said they trusted

television most. Belize newspapers were named the least

trusted medium by 71% of respondents, as compared with 8%

for radio, 6% for magazines, and 5% for television (Harmon,


Despite their partisan stance, the newspapers of Belize

appear to serve as a force for building national identity

because they follow politics very closely and maintain a

consistent editorial stance, in much the same manner as

early newspapers during the American colonial period.


Because newspapers follow a party viewpoint with a partisan

voice, they function as checks on the party in power.

Readers jarred by the sharply political and often nakedly

subjective news angles found on front pages of Belizean

newspapers may compare them with colonial American

newspapers like Sam Adams' Independent Advertiser, which

regularly attacked the ruling British colonial government in

the mid-1700s as a "prerogative party" with an "itch for

riding the Beasts of the People" (Unger, 1992, p. 108).

The lead sentence of a 1995 front page story in The

Belize Times gives the flavor of the modern-day Belizean

press. As the voice of the PUP, The Belise Times misses few

opportunities to criticize the ruling United Democratic

Party of Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel. Under the

headline, "Speaker assaults Ms Ali," the lead sentence read:

"The Speaker of the House of Representatives, BQ Pitts, who

was attorney for one of the accused drug dealers in the

biggest cocaine haul in Belize, on Friday, January 13,

physically assaulted and abused BELIZE TIMES photographer

Marion Ali" ("Speaker assaults," 1995).

The "black power" newspaper Amandala also gave similar

front-page coverage to the House Speaker's alleged attack on

the photographer, calling it "an embarrassing, ugly

incident" ("Black Friday reshuffle," 1995). In contrast,

the pro-UDP newspaper The People's Pulse used its front page

to cover a restructuring of Prime Minister Esquivel's

cabinet and the opening of the 1995 Supreme Court session.

No mention of the alleged photographer assault appeared in

The People's Pulse, which bills itself as "the heartbeat of


Belizeans who want a break from the heavily political

content of their weekly papers can buy the international

edition of The Miami Herald, flown in each morning from

Florida. The Herald's international edition is available in

Belize City and in many resort areas only hours after it is

printed in Miami. Despite its same-day publication

schedule, the newspaper is not available throughout the

country. Citizens in far western Belize might go for months

at a time without seeing a foreign newspaper.

The content of Belizean and foreign newspapers is very

different. While most Belize newspapers covered political

wrangling over their House Speaker's actions in mid-January,

1995, the Herald headlined rising interest rates in the

U.S., an earthquake in Japan, and the O.J. Simpson trial,

complete with a front page picture of Simpson and one of his

jury consultants. The Herald used wire service reports from

many other countries, while the typical Belize newspaper's

coverage of international events was very limited.

Belizean weekly papers published in 1995 included

Amandala, The Belize Times, The People's Pulse, Reporter,

The Alliance, and the government's press offering,

Government Gazette. News in all the papers published in


Belize carried a local slant. Historically, Belize papers

have not used stories from the international newswires

because of the cost of the service (Oliveira, 1990).

International news coverage rarely appears, although some

stories are reprinted from The Miami Herald's international

edition or occasionally from other large U.S. papers such as

The New York Times.


While Americans may choose from dozens of magazine

titles found in almost any convenience market or bookstore,

the situation is far different in Belize. Locally produced

general circulation news and feature magazines simply do not

exist in Belize. Government publications such as Belize

Today are read mostly by other journalists as a source of

statistical data for news reports (Oliveira, 1990). A

survey of media use by Harmon (1988) found that Belizeans

got most of their news from television (48%) and radio

(34%); only 2% reported getting most of their news from


Magazines published in Belize provide a negligible

portion in the nation's popular media mix. The Belize

Information Service prints Belize Today, a monthly

government publication mailed free of charge to a large

number of journalists and other interested subscribers.

Belize Review ($4.50 BZ), a privately owned slick-cover

monthly, leans heavily toward environmental features,

billing itself as dedicated to "environmental education,

conservation and ecotourism." The magazine, published in

Belize City, appears to target an international audience,

with maps of tourist destinations and articles on parks,

wildlife, and biological diversity.

The monthly Belise Currents ($3.95 BZ) publishes not in

Belize, but in Memphis, Tennessee. Its content focuses on

government information and features about business, trade,

and commerce in Belise, hardly topics of popular interest to

a general audience. The quarterly Belise Magazine ($4.95

BZ) publishes from Nashville, Tennessee, with editorial

offices in Pensacola, Florida. Both Belize Currents and

Belize Magazine feature lavish, full-color photo layouts

promoting diving, hiking, and ecotourism. Both are filled

with advertisements for resorts, banks, lodges, and travel


The lack of general-interest Belizean magazines,

combined with a partisan press low in objectivity, appears

to discourage many citizens from reading Belize newspapers

and periodicals. In two separate surveys during a two-year

period, Harmon (1988) found that 27X and 35% of respondents

in Belize said they had read no newspapers or magazines

during the preceding week, an indication of low interest in

locally produced print media. Young people appeared to

follow the national trend of low interest in most newspapers

and magazines. Elliott (1992) found that only half of high

school age respondents reported reading a newspaper during

the past week. Only 16X said they read a newspaper from

another country during a typical week.

Newspaper circulation rates historically hovered

between 3,500 and 5,000 (Lent, 1989; Oliveira, 1990), but by

1995, the circulation of Amandala had grown to 8,500

(Willings Press Guide, 1994). Most papers do not report

their circulation figures, but Asandala's 8,500 copies in a

nation of just over 200,000 people is remarkable. The

largest U.S. newspapers publish about 2 million copies

daily; an American circulation similar to that of Amandala

would require a press run of about 11 million copies. With

one of the highest literacy rates in the Third World, the

Belizean print media command public attention, but from a

very discriminating audience. Some followed the print media

very closely, carefully scrutinizing stories by topic; some

ignored newspapers and magazines altogether.


For most of its history, government-operated Radio

Belize enjoyed a virtual monopoly on broadcasting inside the

country. Belizeans could pick up some AM signals and

shortwave broadcasts from outside their borders, but within

Belize, no other choices existed. The national radio

service began in 1952 as British Honduras Broadcasting,

using a British financial grant, equipment, and personnel

(Lent, 1989). During the 1960s, the station switched to a

semi-commercial operational structure supervised by the

Broadcasting Corporation of Belize (BCB) and airing paid

advertising. During the 1970s Radio Belize continued to

function as an AM-only service, on the air from 6 a.m. to 11

p.m., playing music that ranged from classic American

popular songs to reggae selections.

At the time of national independence, Radio Belize

broadcast from 5 a.m. until 12 p.m., mostly in English and

Spanish, offering a diversity of programs that gave a

multicultural flavor to its schedule (Oliveira, 1990).

Radio announcers often showed off a fluency in English,

Spanish and Creole, mixing Mexican music with U.S. hits and

a variety of song styles from the West Indies. Radio Belize

in 1995 moved seamlessly from English to Spanish to Creole,

from music to talk shows, from rap to religion, including

weather, obituaries, and local announcements in a potpourri

of styles. The station has maintained a strong emphasis on

grassroots programming that includes agricultural

information, local news, and public affairs.

For financial reasons, Radio Belize never has

subscribed to outside newswire services, which are

considered too costly. The station has depended on the

British Broadcasting Corporation and the Voice of America

for its news and actualities about international events.

This agreement allows the BCB to air rewritten reports from

the BBC and the VOA under a mutual use agreement (Oliveira,


1990; Patrick Jones, personal communication, June 26, 1995).

The lack of ties to international wire services creates an

emphasis on local and national radio news. At Radio Belize,

station personnel produce a number of nationally oriented

programs such as A Current Affair that include a mix of

music, information about government, and advice on styles

and fashions. The radio "voice" of Belize also carries a

distinctly local tone in its newscasts.

Radio service expanded at the time of independence and

the introduction of foreign television, adding FM

broadcasting to the existing AM service and delivering

stereo FM in some areas (Lent, 1989). The old Radio Belize

split into "Friends FM" and "Radio One" on the AM band.

After independence, the programming seemed to fit more than

ever in the mold that American broadcasting consultants

often call "news you can use." Correspondents in each of

the country's six districts contributed agricultural news,

personal messages, and general interest news, from changes

in bus schedules to soccer matches, political gatherings,

and dances (Oliveira, 1990).

After satellite-based television began to expand, the

radio service responded by placing an even stronger emphasis

on local content. Lent (1991) reported that Radio One, the

government's AM radio service, reacted to foreign television

by making 75% of all shows local and by programming 60%

Caribbean and Central American music. Radio One also

carried programs for a variety of cultural and ethnic

groups. By the late 1980s, Radio One included programs like

The Ketchi Show, Mopan Maya Show, and The Garifuna Show in

its weekly schedule (Belize Radio One Programme Supplement,

1988). The Ketchi, Mopan, and Garifuna are among the many

indigenous groups in Belize.

The Bahai Viewpoint, What's New at the Zoo, The Top Ten

in Spanish, Al Habla con la Gente del Campo, Death

Announcements, Showers of Blessings, and Reggae Uprising

illustrate the variety of radio programming available. Most

of the programs on the two government-operated radio

stations in the 1990s continued to emphasize music, but many

of the popular songs from the United States were replaced by

a more indigenous sound, including reggae and rap music in

both Spanish and English. Many of the records played on the

AM station in 1995, which had changed its name once again

from Radio One back to Radio Belize, were simply cover

versions of American songs done by Caribbean and Central

American singers. Despite the lack of originality in the

music, the American accents on the records were replaced by

Central American and Caribbean accents for a more "local"


The emphasis on locally originated radio in the 1990s

included a lengthy BCB series of live broadcasts from around

Belize to spotlight local culture. The series, called

Village Life, included broadcasts originating from points as

distant as the village of Big Falls in southern Belize and

tiny Progresso in northern Belize. The live broadcasts

focused on people, culture, traditions and customs in the

villages of Belize (P. E. Jones, personal communication,

January 18, 1995). The Village Life programs, which have

been popular in the past, based their appeal on the same

kind of traditions and folklore of Belize that may be

disappearing in the age of global communication.

Competition from commercial stations in the 1990s has

added to the pressure on Radio Belize and Friends PM to

deliver a popular product. The monopoly position of the

government-owned radio services is gone (Table 1). A list

of radio broadcasters obtained from the Belize Broadcasting

Authority included several privately owned stations that now

compete for audiences with the Broadcasting Corporation of


The number of radio stations in Belize fluctuates as

private owners get into the broadcasting business and

sometimes leave quickly. One television station manager

said all Belizean broadcasters face a struggle for limited

advertising dollars; Belize has few businesses that can

afford broadcast advertising (Marie Hoare, telephone

interview, June 10, 1994). The privately owned radio

stations face an uphill battle to change the habits of

Belizeans who grew up listening to Radio Belize.

Table 1. Belize Radio Stations--1995.

Name Location Assignment

Radio Belize (AM) Belize City 830 khz

Radio Belize (AM) Punta Gorda 910 khz

Friends FM Belize City 88.9 Mhz

Estereo Amor (FM) Belize City 97.9 Mhz

FM 2000 Belize City 90.5 Mhz

Love FM Orange Walk 107.1 Mhz

My Refuge (FM) Belmopan 93.7 Mhz

Radio KREM (FM) Belize City 96.5 Mhz

South 103.3 (FM) Punta Gorda 103.3 Mhz

(Sources: Belize Broadcasting Authority, Belize City;
Belize Public Information Office, Belmopan)

A 1991 BCB survey of listeners in Belise City and

outlying areas indicated that two-thirds of the respondents

preferred Friends FM over other stations and 92% were

satisfied with the music variety provided by Radio Belize

and Friends FM. In addition, 70% of those polled said they

were satisfied with local news provided by BCB (Broadcasting

Corporation of Belize Survey, 1991). While a BCB survey

reporting satisfaction with BCB news and programming may be

somewhat suspect, radio is extremely popular in Belize, and

the BCB stations have a long history of popularity with

local audiences. In 1995, Radio Belize and Friends FM

continued to dominate radio broadcasting in Belize.


At the time of its independence in 1981, Belize

reluctantly nurtured an infant television industry based on

pirated American programs. The first seeds of television

development were planted in 1978, when an American named

Robert Landis began selling videocassette recorders to a few

Belizeans and mailing them a selection of tapes from Miami.

American expatriate Emory King launched the next step toward

broadcast television in Belize by buying an earth station,

taping U.S. television programs, and renting out the tapes

to VCR owners (Lent, 1989). King applied to the government

of Belize for permission to telecast his programs, but was

turned down.

Television broadcasting began in 1981, when American

expatriate Arthur Hoare built the second earth station in

Belize and rebroadcast U.S. programs without the license

mandated by the Belize Telecommunication Authority Ordinance

of 1972. Hoare also built a 110-foot tower and began

broadcasting to two dozen families who had paid $4,000 BZ

($2,000 U.S.) for a lifetime of television (Brogdon, 1986).

Hoare's success in defying the law requiring a license to

broadcast is credited to the bureaucratic inefficiency

caused by the pressures of dealing with independence,

Hoare's potentially important friends in government,

uncertainty about whether the laws of Belise actually

applied to the receptions of broadcast satellite


transmissions, and government apathy toward a situation that

involved only a few wealthy families (Lent, 1989).

When a clever Belize City television technician figured

out how to tune in Hoare's over-the-air signals without

paying for them, the Pandora's box of television in Belize

was opened, never to be closed. Soon, Belize City

television owners were paying a bargain fee to have their

televisions adjusted to pick up Hoare's signal, and the

rapid spread of television began (Oliveira, 1990). Once it

became affordable to have a television set up to receive the

broadcast signals going out over Belize City, more Beliseans

saw a practical reason to invest in televisions.

The Belizean government, dominated at the time by the

People's United Party (PUP), had promised in a 1979

manifesto to deliver television before the next national

election, set for 1984 (Brogdon, 1986). Because national

independence was a top priority, nothing had been done to

provide television when receiving antennas began popping up

around Belize City in 1982. The government had no

legislation to regulate the importation of satellite

television, but considered the importation and sale of

satellite signals illegal. To fill the legal gap, the PUP

Cabinet drafted the Broadcasting and Television Act of 1983,

creating a seven-member Belize Broadcasting Authority (BBA),

composed of industry representatives, journalists, and


The legislation required both radio and television

stations to apply to the BBA for a license. The BBA would

pass license applications on to a minister of

communications. Failure to comply with broadcast

regulations could bring a fine of $5,000 and up to 12 months

in prison (Broadcasting and Television Act, 1983).

When the Broadcasting and Television Act was passed, many

Belizeans seemed to believe that they might soon have a

national television industry that would compete with

imported television from the United States.

"We just don't have funds for local television," the

Attorney General of Belize said in 1984. "That does not

mean that we will just let the satellite services take our

place" (Brogdon, 1986, p. 119). While private satellite

television services continued to grow, the government

television presence failed to materialize, even when the

strongly pro-television United Democratic Party (UDP) won

the 1984 elections and took over from the PUP. Many UDP

members felt that the PUP had dominated broadcasting through

control of Radio Belize and feared government control of a

television station, which might cost $1 million to launch.

"The best they can do is try to intersperse local

programs with the satellite programs," representative Philip

Goldson said in 1984 (Brogdon, 1986, p. 122). Goldson

turned out to be a prophet. Belize television in 1995

followed the pattern Goldson predicted, with local

programming slipped in between long intervals of foreign

content. No national television presence in the mold of

Radio Belize seems likely to appear.

The government's lack of planning and enthusiasm for

television, the stresses of independence, a lack of public

funds, and a non-existent regulatory framework for satellite

signals allowed a privately owned system of television

broadcasting in Belize. Some stations had been operating

for several years by the time they were licensed in 1986.

By 1987, at least 12 Belizean earth stations pirated United

States television for transmission around the country and

television continued to grow in popularity among the

population (Lent, 1989).

As to the legality of pirating U.S. television

programs, the Belizeans who imported American satellite

television in Belize had reasons to believe they were doing

nothing wrong. One of the pioneers of satellite television

in Belize wrote to a number of U.S. broadcasters to explain

that he was recording their programs on videocassettes and

renting them out. He was told that under the terms of the

INTELSAT treaty, of which the U.S. was a signatory, member

countries could not sell their programming outside national

borders (Weaver, 1993). Another television pioneer said the

Belizean government knew he was importing a television

broadcasting tower and other equipment. By allowing him to

accept the import duties on the equipment that would be used


to bring foreign programming into Belize, a tacit government

approval of his operation appeared to be given (Brogdon,


In 1986, the Belize Broadcasting Authority called for

licensed television stations to air at least 1% locally

produced programming, but the requirement was not enforced

because stations claimed the programming was not available

(Lent, 1989). Since that time, local production and

audience access to local programming have improved. Several

private channels were on the air by the early 1990s,

including Channel 7 (Tropical Vision), Channel 9 (CTV),

Channel 13 (religious), Channel 5 (Great Belize Television),

and Channel 3, a short-lived government television operation

(Weaver, 1993).

In 1995, some Belizeans could choose from two competing

evening newscasts on Channel 5 and Channel 7. A handful of

locally produced talk shows such as Lauren Da Nite, which

spotlighted Belizean culture, and One On One With Dickie

Bradley also aired regularly. News operations at the

government's television effort, BCB-operated Channel 3, had

been suspended in 1994, a casualty of faulty equipment and

high costs (Trevor Jeffries, telephone interview, June 10,

1994). Some cable outlets carried programming produced in

Belize City, or even short programs produced and edited for

cable use only. The Belize Broadcasting Authority listed 12

television stations authorized to operate as of January,

1995 (Table 2).

Television in Belize continued to present an

overwhelmingly American influence in 1995, but local

production had made great strides since the arrival of U.S.

programs in an unregulated atmosphere 14 years earlier. The

availability of competing local newscasts in the nation's

capital, the beginnings of locally produced programming, and

the growth of cable outlets to carry the programming hint at

Table 2. Belize Television Stations--1995.


Baymen Broadcasting Network

Tropical Vision Ltd.

Good News Covenant

Great Belize Television

Broadcasting Corp. of Belize

Centaur Communications Corp.

Northern Broadcasting System

Tropical Vision Ltd.


San Pedro Television Ltd.

Valley Vision TV Ltd.

SBS Television


Belize City

Belize City

Belize City

Belize City

Belize City

Orange Walk

Orange Walk


San Ignacio

Ambergris Caye

Stann Creek


(Source: Belize Broadcasting Authority, Belize City)


Ch. 9 & 13

Ch. 7

Ch. 11

Ch. 5

Ch. 3

Ch. 3

Ch. 8 & 10

Ch. 12

Ch. 8

Ch. 2 & 4

Ch. 12

Ch. 2 & 13

an increased local television presence in years to come.

Despite the challenges of competing against the slick

production and special effects, professional actors, and the

much larger budgets characteristic of both U.S. and Mexican

television, programming in Belize was making progress in the


Like station managers everywhere, those in Belize must

balance the income they can count on against the costs of

providing more attractions. In Belize, this situation is

exacerbated by a very limited advertiser base and extremely

strong competition. Despite the financial pinch, Channel

5's management planned to expand the reach of the station's

signal from the area around Belize City to most parts of the

country through a system of towers and cable system access:

We keep in pretty close touch with the community.
People watch our programming. We try to get more
and better local shows without stretching our
resources, and technically it will take less than
a year to reach a nationwide audience.
(Stewart Krohn, Channel 5 managing director,
personal communication, January 18, 1995)

Channel 7, the closest competitor to Channel 5, also

produces some local programs. The station's office manager

said her staff had produced several local programs in the

past year, including a show videotaped in a prison. She

said local material can compete successfully with television

from the United States because it provides content that is

of local interest and unavailable elsewhere (Hazel Vasquez,

personal communication, January 18, 1995).


The libertarian press model at work in Belize began

with a press centered on political movements and partisan

commentary, much like the colonial American press of the

1700s before U.S. independence. Just like the American

press, the Belizean press took root in a colonial society

ruled by the British Empire. Newspapers in Belize have

developed a different interpretation of journalistic

objectivity than that found in the United States, but they

also have a goal of serving as a watchdog over government.

Belize newspapers continue to be very partisan and privately

owned. The very few magazines published in Belize have

limited circulation. One is published by the government.

Radio in Belize followed a social responsibility model,

set up under British rule with government sponsorship and

operated under government supervision. The tradition of

government help and sponsorship continued after

independence, although radio did accept advertising and

operate in a semi-commercial manner. Radio Belize combined

a development journalism model with the strong popular

appeal of programs targeted to the many ethnic and language

groups in the country. The government also allowed

competition, even though it might have succeeded in barring

private ownership of radio or making such ownership

financially unsuccessful.


The libertarian tradition appears most strongly in the

development of television in Belize. Although the

government had plans to develop its own television service,

it never acted to halt private television broadcasting, even

when many Cabinet ministers felt that satellite television

without licensing was illegal. The laissez-faire attitude

toward the press in Belize allowed private television

ownership to make public television financially untenable

and politically unpopular.

Today, television in Belize is changing very slowly

from its almost totally foreign content to more locally

produced material, but the change has more to do with market

forces than government regulation. Government has taken no

responsibility for helping Belize television operators

succeed against foreign competitors. When the government's

own television operation could not succeed, it simply closed

down, perhaps a classic case of how a libertarian press may

function in a developing country.

In summary, Belize newspapers and magazines carry

almost exclusively local content. Radio in Belize maintains

a tradition of exhaustive coverage of local and national

affairs, with little news of international events.

Television, by contrast, presents a powerful emphasis on

international news through channels such as CNN and other

U.S. networks, and practically non-existent coverage of

Belizean affairs. Some local television content has


appeared, and that content appears to be growing, but it is

still a weak national voice.

For these reasons, Belizeans who spend a lot of time

with satellite-imported television at the expense of other

national media such as radio and magazines may have a

different world view than those who spend most of their time

with Belize media. The imported television view is expected

to be generally "global" in nature. The Belize media view

is expected to lean toward the local. The relationship of

these media trends to feelings of national identity forms

the basis for this research study.


A focus on associations between national identity and

media exposure and dependency requires conceptualizations of

how national identity is formed, how it is defined, and how

media dependency theory has been operationalised. Previous

studies of the effects of media use and dependency in

cultures around the world also are relevant to the questions

addressed here. The literature reviewed in this chapter

covers (1) national identity formation and maintenance, (2)

individual media system dependency theory, and (3) previous

studies of media influence and effects.

The working assumption of this literature review is

that television's role in national identity formation and

maintenance in Belize has not been covered in previous

research. For this reason, the literature review is

accompanied by explanations of how the materials covered

apply to specific situations within Belize. A second

assumption is that the research results might be

generalizable to other countries dealing with the influences

of global mass media, especially television. A third

assumption is that the arrival of foreign television and

national independence in Belize at virtually the same time

created a model situation in which to study national

development and media development simultaneously.

The first conceptual approach examines some of the ways

national identity is communicated within a country.

Conceptualizing national identity formation as a

communications process follows the reasoning that people in

a new nation must learn in some way "who we are now."

Answers to citizen questions about who they really are and

how they may be expected to behave must be communicated. A

sense of national identity develops from that dialogue.

National Identity as Communications Strategy

A conceptual approach to national identity formation

developed by Atal (1985) emphasizes the role of all

communication from within and from outside national borders.

This approach views the basic issue facing nations emerging

from the colonial era as a communication problem. For

example, a new nation like Belize builds a stronger sense of

nationalism through a communications system of "apertures"

and "insulators," which allows both inflows and outflows

through a political system that functions as a membrane

(Atal, 1985, p. 6).

Insulators block out messages, ideas, and people.

Apertures control and regulate the inward flow of outside

influences. Tightening or restricting communications

apertures theoretically increases the interaction of

individuals and groups inside the political system by

reducing communication from outside the system. National

governments strive to find the proper balance of

communication within the country and from outside its

borders. Communication may be thought of as any interchange

of people, products, or ideas.

Atal classified language and ethnicity as effective

insulators within a political system. Language and

ethnicity can divide and insulate groups within a nation.

In a new nation, language and ethnicity differences may

follow a pattern of insularity encouraged by past colonial

governments to keep feelings of unity low. New nations must

use communications to break down patterns of insularity

within the country.

Atal (1985) coined the term "sandwich cultures" (p. 9)

to describe problems in nation building caused by groups

that may have migrated into an area, or who have carefully

maintained their culture, language, and ethos. India, for

example, is a culture of many sects and groups characterized

by low interaction. People from one caste may be forbidden

to speak to members of another caste. In Belize, the

Garifuna people from the Caribbean Islands and certain Maya

groups who moved into Belize after Mexico's Caste War in the

mid-1800s are examples of sandwich cultures with very

specialized customs (Foster, 1987). They have maintained

their language and many ancient customs into the space age.

The task of creating a nation is made easier when its

citizens already feel a sense of belonging together. If no

feeling of commonality exists, unity must become an

important national issue after a nation is formed (Weiner,

1972). A nation can be classified as the largest community

that commands a citizen's loyalty, the end product or outer

limits of a sense of solidarity between individuals

(Emerson, 1972).

Belize was culturally and ethnically very diverse at

the time of independence. Government leaders wanted to

create a stronger sense of unity and build national

solidarity. At independence in 1981, the Belizean

population was about 40% Creole; 33% Mestizo; 8% Garifuna,

often referred to as Black Caribs; 7% Maya; 4% white; with a

remainder made up of indigenous groups, East Indians,

Chinese, Syrians and others (Bolland, 1986). Creole and

Spanish were important languages, although an estimated 80%

of the population could speak English. Like many countries

emerging from colonialism, Belize was a multicultural,

multi-ethnic society.

Conceptualizing Communication

The conceptual approach of apertures and insulators can

be applied to the arrival of Belizean independence.

According to Atal (1985), apertures and insulators operate

on both internal and external communications. For Belize,

national independence increased contacts with many nations,

but worsened relations with neighboring Guatemala, which

shared the longest border with Belize. Guatemala also held

a claim of sovereignty over Belize that dated back to 18th

century treaties between the British and Spanish empires

(Dobson, 1973). Guatemalan maps showed Belize as a part of

Guatemala and invasions were threatened on several

occasions. The Guatemalan claim served as an insulator

because Guatemala was the only nation not to recognize

Belizean independence. The two nations had no diplomatic

relations until 1991 (Europa World Year Book, 1994).

Independence continued the Belisean isolation from what

could have been its most important neighbor, Guatemala, and

increased outward contacts with more distant countries such

as the United States. Americans in particular sought

advantageous business opportunities in the new nation. For

example, two Houston businessmen and Coca-Cola subsidiary

Minute Maid orange juice bought into a 686,000-acre tract of

Belizean land in 1985 when the owner encountered tax

problems. The land sale involved about one-eighth of the

total land area of Belize (Petch, 1986). The transfer of

control of one-eighth of the nation's land area to American

businessmen obviously functioned as an "aperture" to outside


Isolated externally from Central America by its use of

English and internally by a rough terrain with few roads,

Belize was saddled with poor communications. For many


years, it had looked to Great Britain and the United States

for trade and external assistance (Barry, 1989). One

historian said that in cultural terms, Belize was really a

displaced part of the Caribbean and a part of Central

America "in only a geographic sense" (Bolland, 1986, p. xi).

Like many former colonial countries, Belize had to build a

national identity after colonialism, from determining

foreign policy to designing a flag. A major government task

was communicating to Belizeans and to the rest of the world

what the new nation was all about.

Defining the National Identity Process

Assessing whether individual media exposure and

dependency is related to the national identity of Belizeans

requires an operational definition of national identity.

Dictionaries define the word national as "representative of

the nation as a whole," and identity as "the state of being

identical." Such definitions are problematic in

characterizing the national identity of Belize, where

individuals represent many ethnic and language groups. The

"nation as a whole" is a nation of diversity, not dominated

by any particular ethnic group.

A dictionary definition of nationality covers "a body

of people having the same traditions, language, or ethnic

origin, and forming a nation." Again, this straightforward

definition of nationality applies to the problem at hand

only in the "nation forming" sense, the idea that a Belizean


is someone who lives in Belize. Even though Belizeans may

not share the same language or ethnic origins, they can be

said to have formed a nation. Thus, the dictionary

definition of what constitutes nationality moves closer to

defining national identity in Belize.

In a very thorough discussion of identification theory,

Bloom (1990) emphasized that national identity is more than

an identification by others that a certain nation exists.

Instead, a sense of national identity requires a

psychological process that produces a general identification

with a nation:

National identity describes that condition in
which a mass of people have made the same
identification with national symbols--have
internalized the symbols of the nation--so that
they may act as one psychological group when
there is a threat to, or the possibility of
enhancement of, those symbols of national
identity. (Bloom, 1990, p. 52)

Bloom asserted that his operational definition of

national identity as a psychological process provided a

clear methodological base for predicting that a mass of

individuals will act as a unit in a situation of shared

identity. Bloom's definition creates doubt about whether

Belizeans have gone through a condition of mass

identification with national symbols.

Using the United States as an example, some historians

have argued that U.S. citizens did not develop a truly

"American" identity until after the Civil War, more than 90


years after proclaiming national independence (e.g., Unger,

1992). Belize has faced few national threats during its

short period of national independence. It has experienced

no wars, revolutions, major civil disturbances, or great

national victories over foreign or domestic threats. The

lingering threat to national sovereignty posed by

Guatemala's claim to Belize never has materialized and

appears to have been settled by negotiations in 1991,

although some disagreements remain. Elections have been

peaceful, and democratic changes in national leadership have

been smooth.

Unlike the United States or the former Soviet Union,

Belize was not forged in a revolution won by force of arms.

In a new nation with several ethnic groups and languages and

a rather peaceful history, national identity may be quite

low. Citizens may identify with their town, their ethnic

group, their region, or their country of origin in the case

of immigrants, rather than with the nation of Belize. One

Belizean writing about the sense of nationalism and identity

in her country said the feeling differs from the "melting

pot" emphasis found in American history. Instead of the

"melting pot," Belizeans adopt a sense of belonging to a

nation while maintaining their ethnic background, diversity,

and cultural traditions (Heusner, 1987).

In new nations, the psychological process of identity

develops a national consciousness that slowly evolves into a

"sense of oneness which comes from a community of

aspiration, response and action" (Constantino, 1978, p. 25).

While the process is going on, citizens can have nationality

with little national identity because many new nations were

created by colonial powers who simply drew map boundaries

for political or military reasons. The people inside the

boundaries may have little in common beyond their


Emerson (1972) mapped out a series of steps along the

road to nationalism, political unification, assimilation,

and identity. A brief summary of his main points outlines

some steps in the psychological journey toward unity:

1. Subjection to a common government.
2. The growth of a single communications network.
3. An educational system based on a common body
of ideas.
4. A single common language used by government.
5. A common body of law and a common
administrative system.
6. Consolidation of the political system to build
an integrated economy.
7. A government that reflects a common cultural
pattern brought to bear on all people.
(p. 78)

The steps Emerson outlined in the process toward

national unity generally apply to Belize, although a single

communications network may not be in place at this time if

the mass media are included. The Belizean postal,

telephone, telegraph and radio systems fit the criteria, but

the television system does not. Belizean television exists,

but it is not yet nationwide, and local material is in short

supply. Belizean television has a national character, but


does not have a national audience at this time because many

homes cannot receive it. The television system has remained

overwhelmingly American.

Belize has taken the other steps Emerson listed,

including the use of English as a common government

language. Only in the case of Emerson's seventh step, a

government that reflects a common cultural pattern brought

to bear on all people, can it be argued that the

psychological journey toward unity clearly is incomplete.

As a country not yet 15 years old, Belize seems to have no

common national cultural pattern.

Foreign Media and Communication

Atal (1985) theorized that mass media opened apertures

for information to conservative, isolated groups like the

"sandwich cultures" that were outside the national

mainstream--groups like the rural Maya or the Garifuna of

southern Belize. The arrival of television in Belize

theoretically had that effect. Through their satellite dish

aperture, Belizeans saw a world much wealthier than the one

they knew, one their first Prime Minister worried might

create unhappiness at home (Brogdon, 1986).

Television offered an important mass medium for

Belizeans. The language of the broadcasts was English, the

official language of Belize. Foreign television provided an

expensive service the government admittedly could not afford

(Brogdon, 1986). Conceptually, foreign television in Belize

may be seen as a vehicle for increased communication from

the outside world and as a possible means of lessening

language divisions within Belize. Realistically, it was not

the vehicle the government of Belize would have chosen for

improving communication and language skills.

The government favored slower development of a national

television system, a development that would have been

limited by the great expense of television and the small

amount of funding available. These financial limitations

would have produced a different television system than that

in place today. Rather than developing television at some

future time, the government allowed a "free" but foreign

system to spread throughout the country.

Conservative institutions such as schools, churches,

government, community organizations, and universities

provide socialization in traditional societies. In Belize,

schools helped create feelings of nationality, teaching

students their history, and training them to respect

national symbols such as the Belizean flag. In 1980, some

92% of the adult population of Belize was literate, and 85%

of school age children attended primary school (Bolland,


Churches also provided support for national identity

through assistance to education. More than half the

nation's primary schools are managed by church

representatives, including Catholics, Anglicans, and


Methodists. The remaining schools are government-operated,

but all receive some government support.

Despite the importance of conservative institutions,

media can play a key role in political socialization within

emerging nations. One study of 18 countries in Africa found

that the mass media ranked first on a list of what were

termed "cultural structures," with radio as the most

important medium (N'Diaye, 1981, p. 27). The study's author

found that cultural structures such as media, universities,

museums, and national archives were intimately bound up with


Language allows citizens to "seize, understand and

interpret the genius of a people by way of its philosophy,

religion and its psychological and moral characteristics"

(N'Diaye, 1981, p. 14). Thus, the language of a country's

mass media is very important in creating or maintaining

identity because mass media can promote a national language.

N'Diaye wrote that the role of cultural structures is to

promote national identity by encouraging the use of a shared

national language.

The African study of cultural development found that a

national university was the second most important cultural

structure after the mass media (N'Diaye, 1981). This

finding applies to a study of media and national identity in

Belize because for many years, higher education meant

sending students out of the country. Belize now has a

teachers' college, an agriculture college, a technical

college, and the University College of Belize for the

training of some teachers and health care workers, but no

liberal arts universities. Many students still have to

leave Belize to seek a degree in their chosen field.

Without the cultural competition of a national

university or a national television system, the foreign

television structure in Belize was free to operate in a way

that has been characterized in other nations as a

"counterweight to the established authorities" (Pool, 1979,

p. 124). Shortly after the first television broadcasting

began, the Belizean government declared satellite

broadcasting illegal, but failed to act to prevent it

(Brogdon, 1986; Weaver, 1993). While government inaction

continued, television entered a period of expansion.

Television broadcasting, with or without the Belizean

government's blessing, continued to operate alongside the

government's radio service, public schools, and churches as

an important cultural structure in Belise.

Some communication scholars would argue that

television environments like that of Belize offer evidence

of violations of national sovereignty by the United States

(Nordenstreng & Schiller, 1979). U.S. laws also failed to

cover the importation of satellite signals that was going on

in Belize (Weaver, 1993). The sovereignty question could

have been answered by the new Belizean government through

stronger action to control imported television signals and

satellite broadcasting, but effective action was not taken.

Under a different type of government, the early

satellite entrepreneurs in Belize might have been shut down,

but the constitution guaranteed free expression. Perhaps

the Belizean constitution and system of government also can

be classified as apertures that created openings in the

political system. In summary, looking at the search for

national identity in Belize as a communication problem

offers a helpful conceptual approach to issues of mass media

and national identity.

National Identity and Young People

Conceptualizing national identity formation as a

communication process is particularly applicable to young

people, the audience chosen for this research. Through

their many hours in school and the active influences of

peers, parents, teachers, churches, and the media, young

people are more intensely involved than adults in

socialization processes. The teenage years are a time for

examining ideas about the world through social institutions

such as the public schools. Teenagers also struggle to

achieve and prioritize an assortment of individual needs.

The Need for Identity

According to Maslow's (1954) hierarchy of needs, the

primary human need is (1) physiological, followed by (2)

safety needs, (3) love needs, (4) self-esteem needs, and (5)

self-actualization needs. The need for safety includes a

longing for the absence of physical threats as well as a

need for a predictable world. A feeling of national

identity meets some of the requirements for living in a safe

and predictable world.

A safe world also creates the opportunity to fulfill

additional needs for self-esteem and self-actualization.

National identity construction builds on a variety of

factors included in the need for safety and security. The

influences of institutions in society help build national

identity through a process broadly characterized as

political socialization.

A major point in much of the political socialization

literature involving young people is their search for

stability in the social system through companionship and

social organizations (e.g., Yogev & Shapira, 1990). Renshon

(1977) has argued that political socialization can begin at

a very early age, although he criticized the lack of

longitudinal studies to illustrate children's opinion change

over time. Along with family, schools, and peer groups, the

mass media play a role in acquainting young people with the

operations, norms, and mores of their world (Chaffee, Ward,

& Tipton, 1970).

National Identity and Personal Identity

The writings of psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, the first

to popularize the phrase "identity crisis," addressed the


need for stability during adolescence. Erikson (1968) found

adolescence a time when individuals integrate expectations

of society with personal needs as they pass through an

"identity crisis" and realize the demands society will place

on them as adults:

The final identity, then, as fixed at the end of
adolescence is superordinated to any single
identification with individuals of the past: it
includes all significant identifications, but it
also alters to make a unique and a reasonably
coherent whole of them. (pp. 112-113)

Erickson's point supports the idea that identity

construction is a problem of communication. Young people

form a picture of themselves, a final identity, in

adolescence. The picture includes their view of themselves,

their place in society and in their country, their

opportunities, and their potential place in the world.

For many Belizeans, deciding what "being Belizean"

means is not clear in the 1990s. By the late 1980s, an

estimated 50,000 to 65,000 Belizeans, one of every five

citizens, were living in the United States (Barry, 1989).

In addition, about 25,000 people from neighboring countries

entered Belize in the first three years after independence,

one of the largest inflows of population in the history of

Belize. Government statements indicate that the twin

pressures of immigration from Central America and emigration

to the United States have muddled the definition of what

being Belizean means ("Immigration issue," 1987).

Identification theory proposes that as life

circumstances change, individuals may create new

identifications for themselves (Bloom, 1990). Young

Belizeans preparing to go out into the world face changing

life circumstances. They may create new identifications

with what they see as their future. On the other hand,

existing feelings of Belizean identity may be difficult to

change because individuals seek to protect and enhance their


As Erikson (1968) points out, identity maintenance

depends on the support a young person receives "from the

collective sense of identity characterizing the social

groups significant to him: his class, his nation, his

culture" (p. 89). The drive to enhance and protect

identifications can strengthen ties either inside or outside

a person's country. Satellite-delivered television offers

one example of how adolescents can identify with a lifestyle

outside Belize. A poem written by a 16-year-old Belizean

illustrates the way some teenagers see life in the United


Have you ever sat down and watch T.V.
Well, it has happened to me.
I don't smoke weed
but I get a natural high
watching the Jeffersons
get a piece of the pie.
Do you know that it's ABC
getting addicted to watching T.V.
("Television," by Karl Burgess,
cited in Wilk, 1993, p. 229).


This Belizean teenager's poem hints at how the process

of identification with people outside national borders may

operate. With about 29% of the population of Belize now

classified as Creole (Central Statistical Office, 1991), it

is possible for young blacks in Belize to cheer when black

Americans get "a piece of the pie" on U.S. television.

Identification theory addresses the issue of

identification with cultural symbols such as a common

language or observance of cultural customs such as holidays.

This process may include almost anything that promotes a

common psychological bond (Bloom, 1990). For example,

sharing a common language with friends and relatives in

Mexico or the United States can be a powerful factor in

identification for young people in Belize. Because locally

produced Belizean television and imported U.S. programs

share the same language, American programs are well

received. Spanish-speaking Belizeans also enjoy radio and

television programs from neighboring Mexico.

In the relative absence of Belizean national symbols on

television, young people may find symbols of success and

stability in the foreign television characters they identify

with. Television's Jeffersons may be identified with

relatives who have gone to the United States. One survey of

Belizean high school students reported that 59% said they

got "most" of their information about the United States from

television (Elliott, 1992). Characters on U.S. television

programs may act as symbols of successful young people in

the United States, a country Belizeans can "adopt" through


Determining whether media can and do influence

individual perceptions of national identity demands more

than simply knowing that American television exists in

Belize and presents content unlike Belizean media. The

relationships between individual viewers, radio listeners,

and readers in Belize and the media content they use can

help answer questions about influence. Dependency theory

provides a framework for studying and attempting to measure

media influence on individuals.

Media Dependency Theory

Individual media system dependency theory provides the

theoretical basis for this project (Ball-Rokeach, 1985;

Ball-Rokeach & DeFleur, 1976; DeFleur & Ball-Rokeach, 1989).

Media dependency theory originally defined "a relationship

in which the satisfaction of needs or the attainment of

goals by one party is contingent upon the resources of

another party" (Ball-Rokeach & DeFleur, 1976, p. 6).

The theory focused at first on audiences, hypothesizing that

demand for information grows along with the level of

conflict and change in society. The theory also proposed

that the need for information goes beyond simple media use;

audiences come to depend on specialized media for

specialized information.

Ball-Rokeach and DeFleur (1976) argued that many

researchers had failed to determine if media had widespread

effects or very little influence because of faulty

conceptualizations of causes and effects. According to

their view, other researchers had not accounted for the

complex relationships between media, audiences, and society.

In a complex and difficult society, audiences might depend

on media to define situations, construct social reality,

help form attitudes, determine agendas, and expand and alter

beliefs and values.

Dependency theory soon recognized the individual's role

more clearly. Theory refinements reflected a focus on

individual media dependency, the perspective that guides

this research. The newer emphasis lay with the individual's

desire for social understanding and efforts to gain

information about the social environment by using a "message

dissemination resource" (Ball-Rokeach, 1985, p. 487). Media

dependency theory hypothesized that individuals expose

themselves to messages based on expectations about these

messages' relevance and utility. Relevance and utility

perceptions were influenced by the media themselves and by

interpersonal networks (Ball-Rokeach, Rokeach, & Grube,


The media promote perceptions of message utility by

advertising the content of their messages in advance. For

example, a television station may promote its weather,

sports, or stock market coverage to appeal to specialized

audience segments. Interpersonal influences on perceptions

of message utility occur when individuals or social groups

place a high value on message content. For example, young

people might find that watching television shows about the

dating behavior and customs of other young people would be

quite relevant to their own lives. They might be influenced

in this decision by interpersonal networking with other

young people who found such information useful.

Media dependency relationships are based on individual

goals and the resources available in a society. DeFleur and

Ball-Rokeach (1989) list media system resources as

information gathering, information processing, and

information dissemination. The information may be news or

entertainment. More recent statements of the theory

emphasize the complex nature of media effects, which may be

the result of particular media content, individual

predispositions to attend to certain messages, or the result

of cumulative exposure to a wide variety of media (DeFleur &

Ball-Rokeach, 1989)

By controlling information gathering, processing, and

dissemination, a media system operates from a position of

power over resources, while media users operate from a

position of dependency on media to fulfill their information

goals. Media dependency theory hypothesizes that the more

functions a medium serves in a society, the greater the

individual and societal needs for that medium.

Defining the relationship between the individual and

that person's media dependencies is critical, according to

DeFleur and Ball-Rokeach (1989). Media dependency theory

outlines specific ways to measure individual relationships

with media. For individuals, media systems meet three broad

goals: (1) understanding of both self and the social world;

(2) orientation, which includes learning about styles of

dress and interactions such as handling situations with

others; and (3) play, including self-entertainment and

social activities.

A person may use a variety of media to learn about

tomorrow's weather, for example, but probably depends on a

single source for a decision to either carry an umbrella or

leave the umbrella at home. This single source for weather

information may be the page of a newspaper showing a weather

map. The newspaper weather map may be chosen even after the

person has heard and seen several national and local weather

reports on radio and television. In this example, the

information depended on for a decision about a specific

behavior came from a single source, the newspaper.

As society becomes more complex, mass media serve more

information functions that can be very behavior specific.

Dependency theory hypothesized that dependency on a medium

increases as the medium's important functions increase.

Certain "situational contingencies" (Ball-Rokeach, Rokeach,

& Grube, 1984, p. 12) such as the number of media that

fulfill the same function can affect message exposure, but

where these factors do not interfere, perceptions of

relevance and utility will prevail.

Other researchers who have examined studies based on

media dependency theory have found that they deal with a

variety of dependent variables that are not clearly

comparable. McLeod and McDonald (1985) advised researchers

to note how much time was spent with various media, what

particular content was chosen, the amount of reliance on

specific media, and the motivations for media use (p. 6).

The present study attempts to follow this approach.

By focusing on individual information goals, the early

dependency theorists acknowledged that most people follow a

problem-solving strategy for media use and that they can

articulate rational reasons for their media use patterns

(Ball-Rokeach, Rokeach, & Grube, 1984, p. 6). The belief

that media use is based on problem-solving motivations that

are understood and can be explained is a key point for this

research, which used a survey instrument to gather such data

from young people. The young people questioned in this

research were asked about which media they used to

accomplish certain goals, and which media they depended on

for entertainment, or for local, national, and international


Dependency Theory Refinements

After more than a decade of refinements and testing of

media dependency theory, the authors described it as an

"ecological" theory which could explain a wide variety of

media behaviors at all levels of society. Dependency theory

continued to examine three sources of media influence: (1)

society and the media, (2) the media and the audience, and

(3) society and the audience (Ball-Rokeach & DeFleur, 1989,

p. 303). The original emphasis on media functions remained

the same; the media served to gather or create information,

process the information, and disseminate it to audience

members. The greatest change in the theory was its focus on

the way individuals--rather than audiences--form media

dependency patterns which may lead to media effects.

The theory explained relationships between individuals

and large media systems, or with parts of the system such as

radio, newspapers, or television by stating that it is the

"relationship that carries the burden of the explanation" of

varying media effects (DeFleur & Ball-Rokeach, 1989, p.

303). In other words, one person may be very radio

dependent, while another person's goals lead to heavy

dependence on several media forms. For example, Hemingway's

solitary fisherman in The Old Man and the Sea followed his

beloved American baseball teams through the newspaper. In

contrast, a modern-day stockbroker may depend on a variety

of information sources during different parts of the day, or

the stockbroker may consult several very different

information sources during a single hour.

The relationship of the person to each media source

within the media system defines the expected exposure to and

dependency on messages and the expected effects of those

messages. By extension, dependency theory can be applied to

specific content carried by a medium. Some people may

depend on television news, television entertainment,

newspaper horoscopes, or popular music shows on local radio

to fill varying information needs. For example, some young

people in Mexico said they learned useful information about

how to dress for a date and how to ask someone for a date by

watching the U.S. television program Beverly Hills 90210

(Elliott, 1994).

Media Dependency and Effects

While this research is a study of associations between

media and identity and not a media effects study, some

dependency literature focusing on effects provides useful

information for this project. DeFleur and Ball-Rokeach

(1989) hypothesize varying media dependency relationships

according to the goals of the individual viewer. This

distinction in media dependency relationships guides the

present research in Belize.

As an example of differential dependency, a person who

watches television primarily for entertainment or "play" may

look for and receive a message very different from someone


who watches the same program with a goal of "understanding"

(DeFleur & Ball-Rokeach, 1989, p. 311). The goal of

understanding also may encourage different media use

according to individual desires for understanding specific

information. Thus, a young Belizean who plans to seek a

university education in the United States may report media

exposure and dependency patterns that are quite different

from another survey participant who plans to attend a

technical college in Belize.

Dependency researchers hypothesize different media

effects according to the goals of individual media use. For

this reason, different relationships between media

dependency and national identity are expected according to

individual goals. This theoretical approach is similar to

the functional approach that classifies mass media functions

as (1) surveying the environment, (2) correlating events

within the environment, (3) transmitting culture or social

heritage, and (4) entertainment (Anderson & Meyer, 1975).

DeFleur and Ball-Rokeach (1989) also take a somewhat

functional approach to media effects, hypothesizing a

different degree of effects for active media selectors and

casual observers. Some individuals use media to achieve

understanding, orientation, or play goals, while others

encounter media messages only incidentally. Those more

intensely involved with media are more likely to show

cognitive effects on perceptions, attitudes, knowledge, or

values. DeFleur and Ball-Rokeach (1989) caution that the

way individual audience members think and feel about media

messages--as measured by cognitive and affective change--may

not be linked to behavioral change, but high media

dependency does increase the probability of behavioral


Other researchers support the claim for differential

effects according to observable media use patterns,

classifying viewers as either goal-directed "instrumental"

active audience members or "ritual" passive viewers (Kippax

& Murray, 1980; Rubin, 1984). In general, researchers have

hypothesized that the stronger the individual dependency on

a given communication medium, the greater the likelihood

that the medium will affect cognitions or understanding of

the social world through a model of exposure, arousal or

interest, and involvement, followed by measurable effects

(DeFleur & Ball-Rokeach, 1989; Rubin & Windahl, 1986).

Media system dependency theory proposes a relationship

between the effects of a particular message or a specific

medium and the perceived utility of the message or medium.

This approach to media system influence is used in the

present study of media exposure and dependency among young

people in Belize. The rapid expansion of television in

Belize indicates an audience appreciation for its utility.

The presence of television, its high audience

penetration, and the audience acceptance of Belizean

television's foreign, typically American, content seem to

indicate a powerfully felt need for information about the

world beyond Belize. Whether the relevance and utility of

the Belizean viewer's exposure and dependency can be

characterized as a need for information--instrumental

viewing--or the simple escapism of "ritual" viewing (Rubin,

1984) is not known. The characterization of dependency as

"a relationship in which the satisfaction of needs or the

attainment of goals by one party is contingent upon the

resources of another party" (Ball-Rokeach & DeFleur, 1976,

p. 6) seems particularly appropriate to Belize, where

foreign television filled a local media vacuum.

This research seeks to determine if identity with

Belize correlates with media use and media dependency. The

answers to these questions offer the possibility of a new

perspective on national identity formation in the almost 100

new nations created after World War II (Nordenstreng &

Schiller, 1979). Because it often is true that "the media

are American," (Tunstall, 1977) many of the world's people

may identify more closely with a "psychic America" or with

some form of "global citizenship" than with their own

country. In a new nation such as Belize, personal

identifications as "global citizens" or "television

Americans" are expected to be more prevalent than in nations

with a longer history. Young Belizeans may identify with

other places through television and other foreign media.

Applying Dependency Theory Within Belize

Correlating specific media exposure and dependency

behaviors with individual goals, and especially with

feelings of national identity, is the approach used in the

present study in Belize. This research attempts to

determine how and in what situations media and interpersonal

systems are used for either information or entertainment.

These functions are especially important to young people who

are forming their ideas about the world and orienting

themselves to the society in which they live.

As applied to Belize, dependency on media may help

young people understand the social world outside the

country, the social world within Belize, or to create an

entertainment and fantasy world to escape to. In general,

the greater the need for media information, the greater the

probability that the information supplied will change a

person's knowledge, attitudes, or behavior.

Media dependency theory places the individual media

user in the forefront for data analysis. The individual

approach suggested by media dependency theory will be

followed in this research. Other scholars have found that a

focus on individual viewers can be very productive. After

analyzing television's impact in Europe, Paterson (1993)

suggested a "bottom up" (p. 4) approach to television

studies related to national identity questions, analyzing

the ways individuals determine their place in society by


learning from specific media sources. This project uses the

bottom up approach, focusing on individual relationships to

media systems. The unit of analysis is the individual media

user and that person's relationship to each medium of


Adolescents and Media Use

Television seems to influence some young viewers toward

a stronger sense of global awareness, a central focus of

this research (Granzberg, 1982). One reason for

television's power to increase global awareness may be that

a great many television programs originate from outside

national borders, giving viewers a window on the world.

Young people in other countries may be influenced by the

content carried by American television, especially when they

use English in daily conversation (Tan, Tan, & Tan, 1987).

Because of the international focus of satellite

television, young Belizeans are expected to use foreign

television for information about educational or job

opportunities outside their country. They also may use

television to share common experiences with relatives and

friends living in the United States. Another television use

might be to learn about the behavior and customs of other

young people around the world.

In general, young people are very motivated media

users, among the most likely viewers to watch more than one

television channel at once, "zap" out of commercials, and

rent VCR tapes to control the content of their viewing

(Greenberg, 1988). Young viewers in Belize are expected to

be very active in searching for content, using television as

a surveillance mechanism for learning about world events,

behaviors, styles, customs, and events affecting relatives

or friends who live in other countries.

Mass media researchers typically consider young people

among the population groups most vulnerable to the influence

of television because it is assumed that many of their ideas

about the world are not fully formed and are thus subject to

change after exposure to television portrayals of life

(Gerbner & Gross, 1976; Huston, et al., 1992). Young

people, for example, may choose to watch only television

programs that feature young actors or information about

teenagers in other countries to learn about how their roles

are performed by other peer groups. Teenagers often search

for role models in style, dress, and behavior in the foreign

cultures portrayed on television (McClellan, 1994).

Young people who have the highest exposure to and

dependency on television may feel that they are part of a

"global youth society," and register lower scores on ratings

of national identity than light viewers. In this research,

television exposure and dependency are considered along with

a number of interpersonal communication and media use

measures. Learning how young Belizeans use their

information sources provides a test of how dependency theory

may explain correlations between "global" or "national"

identities. One criticism of many media studies is that

they examine reliance on only one or two media systems such

as television or radio. A comparison of other media and

interpersonal information use and reliance should offer a

broader base for dependency theory conclusions (J.

Straubhaar, personal communication, April 8, 1995).

In summary, young audience members who are heavily

dependent on Belize radio, local newspapers, and magazines

about Belize are expected to be more locally oriented in

their media use, less global in their interests, and

strongly associated with a "Belizean" identity. Those who

are dependent on foreign media--especially satellite

television--are expected to be more "global" in outlook and

to report national identity measures that are somewhat lower

than their peers. Research in other countries provides

support for these assumptions.

International Mass Media Studies

Studies of mass media influence in countries around the

world offer a solid basis for the present research questions

addressed in Belize. Such studies are particularly

applicable where countries share a common language with the

United States, or where nations have been heavily exposed to

American mass media. Because the United States is the

world's largest exporter of television content, studies that

focus on U.S. television influence are abundant and diverse


(Dunnett, 1990). The studies cited here center on the issue

of mass media--especially television--as a force for either

national or global identity, a central question of this


Research Trends

Mass media researchers note two general trends

involving national identity issues and television. First,

researchers argue that television influence supports an

identity beyond national borders, creating a kind of global

citizen who is conversant with a common technical, visual

effects language (Snow, 1983). This global language is one

of pictures more than words, freeing viewers from many of

the constraints of separation by language. Hand-held video

games are an example of visual communication that does not

depend on language.

Other research views television as a reinforcement

for resurgent ethnic, language, tribal, or religious

identifications (e.g., McLuhan & Powers, 1989). McQuail

(1987) has written at length about this key theory issue,

concluding that one of the major communication questions

still to be settled is whether media act as a force for

social unity or fragmentation. Media can promote

decentralization and fragmentation, or operate as a force

for unity, "nation-building, modernization, [and] political

strength" (McQuail, 1987, p. 304).

Studying global television reveals a clash of

theoretical models involving social unity or fragmentation.

Improved communications and increased access to television

around the world bring the Western model of national

identity based on law and rights into conflict with other

models dominated by language, ethnicity, and customs

(Paterson, 1993). The global message flow adds some

pressure for people in developing societies to change

traditional behaviors and attitudes (Inkeles, 1969).

Changes in identity may result from certain traumatic

developments that upset basic cultural elements and ideas of

collective destiny (Smith, 1991). These traumatic

developments can stem from a variety of sources, from the

sudden restructuring of Cold War alignments and East-West

spheres of influence to the slower passage from traditional

to more modern societies (Lerner, 1958). Global television

messages are one source of information about other nations

and about new ways of expressing personal identity.

Individual country studies indicate that different

media have different influences on feelings of national

identity. Some media may promote a more global or outwardly

directed point of view than others (Barnett & McPhail, 1980;

Martin-Barbero, 1988; Odhiambo, 1991; Subervi-Velez, 1986).

In general, radio and newspapers carry a heavier local

emphasis, while television and films tend to be more global

in emphasis. Government regulatory policies also influence


how media function to support national identity. Research

into audience receptivity to imported programming offers

models for additional regulatory guidelines in countries

where foreign television is now arriving or where foreign

media flows are increasing.

Television in the Developing World

Large parts of the Asian market, which includes about

one-third of the world's 1.4 billion television sets, were

opened to Western television programming only recently

(Auletta, 1993). Television penetration continues to grow

among India's population of 882 million, where the

government has experimented with combinations of imported

and domestically produced programming (Singhal & Rogers,

1988). China struggles to maintain control of its

television marketplace as millions of Chinese in search of

program diversity buy satellite dishes which the government

has sought to ban (Sharma, 1993).

In Africa, one of the greatest challenges in a very

large continent with diverse ethnic groups is finding a way

to finance television programming that affords at least some

representation of actual audience interests (Martin, 1991;

Odhiambo, 1991). In much of the Arab world, television

content that challenges national priorities must be tailored

to fit the cultural sensitivities of politically

conservative governments (Boyd, 1993). In all these

situations, the conflict between global television flows and

national priorities plays a role in how governments deal

with the television broadcasts their citizens are allowed to


Research in countries where foreign television,

particularly U.S. television, has become a national issue

shows how governments deal with messages from outside their

borders. Different government regulatory strategies can

produce a variety of media outcomes. In addition, the

audience and media interactions in each of the countries

studied provide comparisons with the goals of this research.


Canada has a history of exposure to American television

and a pattern of U.S. program penetration that almost rivals

that of Belize, although Canada has long enjoyed its own

national television system. Following a socialization

perspective, Barnett and McPhail (1980), studied the

relationship between U.S. television and national identity

among university students in Ottawa, Canada. The Canadian

study found that the more U.S. television young Canadians

watched, the less they perceived themselves as Canadian and

the more they perceived themselves as American.

Barnett and McPhail (1980) used metric multidimensional

scaling (MMDS), a data collection method that converts the

perceived distances between items such as "Canada and

yourself" (p. 228) into a series of loadings on several

dimensions. The dimensions examined were students'

attitudes toward Canada, the United States, the Canadian

media, the U.S. media, and the students' sense of national

identity. The students reported watching more Canadian than

U.S. television, but found American programs more

entertaining. Students who watched U.S. television most

frequently and who watched a high percentage of American

shows saw themselves as significantly more American than

Canadian, while the opposite was true for those who watched

more Canadian television.

The significance of the relationship between American

television use and a sense of American identity among

Canadian college students may be confounded by the study

location. Ottawa is only 60 miles from the U.S. border and

just a few hours' drive from Buffalo and Rochester, New

York, and Detroit, Michigan. Barnett and McPhail

acknowledged that other factors may have accounted for at

least part of the apparent influence of television.

Interpersonal communication, visits to the United States,

and conversations with American visitors to Canada were

among the factors that reportedly influenced perceptions

about the United States.

The authors reported that 47% of the prime-time

programming available in the survey city of Ottawa was

produced in the United States. They suggested that Canada

might consider limiting the amount of U.S. television to

counter its influence on national identity. In the years

since the Barnett and McPhail (1980) study, the Canadian

government has acted to limit U.S. television programming.

The 1994 Canadian television schedule carried the greatest

amount of Canadian-produced programming in the country's

history. Canadian shows made up 90% of the nationwide prime

time schedule. Only five American shows aired during prime

time in Canada in 1994 (Harris, 1994).

Also in Canada, some relatively powerful cultural

effects were recorded when television arrived in the remote

Hudson Bay area in the early 1970s. The research in Canada

by Granzberg (1982) involved a situation that can be

compared with the sudden arrival of U.S. television in

Belize. After exposure to television, members of the

Algonkian Indian tribes in Canada were more likely than

other Canadians to believe that television accurately

portrayed the "real" world.

Young people exposed to television were more likely to

reduce their use of the native Cree language at home and

more likely to act violently during play (Gransberg, 1982).

The author reported that some young Algonkians adopted

phrases such as "sit on it" that were made popular by the

television character Fonzie in the American series "Happy

Days." Other children reportedly tried to copy actions and

behaviors learned from television and often were addressed

by other children as though they were characters on the

"Happy Days" television show.


Government regulatory policies also can require an

emphasis on national identity, as is the case in Mexico. In

contrast with the arrival of television in Belize, Mexican

television began with a burst of nationalism. Television

arrived in Mexico on August 31, 1950, and broadcast the

Mexican president's state of the union speech the next day

(Alisky, 1988). By the 1970s, the Mexican government was

funding television stations for some universities and

operating a nationwide television network. Mexico's

broadcast law includes a specific charge to broadcasters to

"contribute to the raising of the cultural level of the

people, conserving national characteristics, customs of the

nation and traditions, and exalting the values of Mexican

nationality" (Alisky, 1988, p. 216).

Mexico followed the United States model of allowing

private entrepreneurs to create television services because

of the enormous expense of creating a television network,

but reserved the right to demand up to 12.5% of all airtime

from all stations to broadcast what the government called

public service messages. Mexican television also produced a

series of development-oriented television soap operas in the

late 1970s that featured family planning and adult literacy

messages (Singhal & Rogers, 1988).

Despite the public service emphasis written into

Mexican broadcast law, government efforts to ensure a

television service that reflected national values and

national identity never have been successful in Mexico.

American influence over Mexican mass media has remained a

problem for the Mexican government. Entrepreneurs took

advantage of inexpensive but popular American television

shows, airing large amounts of U.S. programming for many

years (Tunstall, 1977). Even in the 1990s, American

stations broadcasting in English outnumbered Mexican

stations on cable outlets in some Mexican television markets

(Elliott, 1994).

Guyana and the Caribbean

Instead of following the Mexican example of requiring

an emphasis on national identity through television, Belize

seemed to parallel the example of television development

that occurred in Guyana. As the only English-speaking

country in South America and a former British colony, Guyana

shared a South American status similar to that of Belize in

Central America. After proclaiming the country a republic

in 1970, the Guyanan government took control of radio

broadcasting and planned to build a television service based

on a development journalism model.

By the early 1980s, the government of Guyana had not

developed a television service, but wealthy citizens had

begun to buy television sets and VCRs set to North American

technical standards. In 1982, just after television arrived

in Belize, satellite rebroadcasting of pirated American

signals began in Guyana at a time when the country had no

broadcast legislation (Sidel, 1990).

The Guyanese government did not begin broadcasting its

own programs until 1988 and then aired only 10-minute

newscasts of local affairs. Locally produced programming

filled only about two hours a week in 1988; the rest of the

schedule was dominated by U.S. programs the government of

Guyana had tried to avoid (Sidel, 1990). Guyana is an

example of a country that allowed market forces to dominate

national television broadcasting by failing to make

decisions. Belize repeated Guyana's television experience

during the same decade for roughly the same reasons.

Surveys in a number of Caribbean nations show that U.S.

television operates as a window on the world that overwhelms

competition from locally owned stations with a weak economic

base (Lent, 1991). Quite often, the result is a decrease in

local programming and increases up to almost 100% in the

American programming content of some Caribbean island

television. The foreign programs may contribute to

increased curiosity about countries like the United States,

feelings of a need for change, unfavorable comparisons

between the home country and wealthy nations, and a greater

awareness of and attraction for customs, consumer products,

and cultural artifacts that originate beyond national

borders (Skinner, 1984).


Increasingly, national leaders realize that television

programs created and produced in the national language are

an important means of maintaining cultural sovereignty in

the face of exposure to the global television system.

Locally produced programming carrying accepted national

themes competes very well against imported programs (Cohen,

1988). Where nations develop strong broadcasting systems

that offer local entertainment and news programming,

imported programs and foreign content can be relegated

quickly to less-watched hours or pushed off the air (Kottak,

1991). Some Latin American countries once dominated by

American programs have created strong television industries.

Latin America

The television system in Brazil offers an example of

what can be done by an ambitious and well-funded local

broadcasting industry. A tightly written government media

policy has enabled Rede Globo, the national network of

Brazil, to dominate the Brazilian television market. Rede

Globo holds a nightly audience of up to 80 million viewers.

Audience surveys indicate that all of the favorite shows are

native productions (Kottak, 1991). Although Brazilian

television is highly commercial, the broadcasting laws also

mandate some information and education programming in the

weekly schedule (Oliveira, 1988).

The popularity of Brazil's programming follows a

pattern found in countries around the world; where

nationally produced programs are available in sufficient

supply, the American programming presence usually diminishes

(Head, 1985). Television pictures and messages portray a

part of each country's national culture, and in almost every

culture studied, programming with a strong indigenous appeal

will outperform imported content (Luyken, 1991).

On occasion, governments take steps to ensure that

their indigenous content is able to compete equally with

imported programming. Where that happens, as in Mexico or

Canada, or where national advertisers can provide equal

competition, as in Brazil, foreign programs enjoy no real

advantage and local culture takes precedence. Where

governments provide no regulation, or do not enforce

existing television regulations, the competition between

imported programs and locally produced content can be quite

different. The economy of scale enjoyed by television

program producers in developed countries who can sell at or

below the production costs in other nations may overwhelm

local competition and replace local programming (Collins,

1988; Dunnett, 1990).


A study of media and national identity in Scotland

suggests some of the comparisons between local and national

media that may apply in Belize. Like Belize, which has a

heavy "Belizean" influence in its radio programming and

newspapers, "Scottishness" characterizes Scottish radio

(Meech & Kilborn, 1992). Researchers have found that

television and films have much more of an English flavor.

Meech and Kilborn offered no quantitative results in

their analysis of Scottish media, but made several

instructive points: (1) researchers should use caution in

attributing too decisive a role to media; (2) some factors

involved in the complex issue of national identity pre-date

the modern era of mass communication; and (3) in smaller

countries, radio and newspapers are more likely than

television or films to focus on issues of national identity

because of budget constraints in the larger and more costly


In Scotland, the British Broadcasting Corporation

allowed regional radio services such as Radio Clyde to enjoy

enormous audience popularity by featuring announcers with

Scottish accents and programs that focused on distinctly

Scottish affairs. Moray Firth Radio, operating in

Scotland's far north, can be compared to Radio Belize. It

emphasizes community affairs, agricultural information, and

rural news, reporting for an audience of about 200,000

widely scattered listeners.

Meech and Kilborn reported that Scottish television

failed to match the local emphasis provided by radio. Few

programs are produced in Scotland by either the BBC or

Scottish television companies. Additional research supports

the claim that Scottish radio audiences differ from


television-oriented audiences that may lack a strong sense

of national identity (Caughie, 1982). Many Scottish

television broadcasts are generally perceived as "English"

rather than Scottish (Meech & Kilborn, 1992).

Scottish weekly newspapers are very popular, with

household penetration rates of more than 80%. Some

newspapers capitalize on their "Scottishness," just as

newspapers in Belize promote their nationalistic tone. As

these categories of Scottish media illustrate, consumers

have access to a variety of media products. In measuring

media dependency and its interactions with national

identity, researchers need to look at each media type and

its source, being careful not to lump "media" together under

a single heading.


Studies of the influence of locally oriented mass media

such as radio versus the globally oriented focus of

television are especially appropriate to Belize, where no

national television broadcasting structure exists. As an

English-speaking microstate in a Central American

environment of Spanish-speaking countries, Belize has a

history of looking to England and the United States for

trade and aid. The arrival in 1981 of satellite-transmitted

television from the United States was another step in a long

history of close relations between Belize and the U.S. that

have influenced Belizean life.

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