If the formative power in the media are the media themselves, that raises a host of large matters.... Namely, that technological media are staples or natural resources, exactly as are coal and cotton and oil. Anybody will concede that a society whose economy is dependent upon one or two major staples like cotton, or grain, or lumber, or fish, or cattle is going to have some obvious social patterns of organization as a result.

McLuhan 35

The notion that media are "natural resources" or "staples" underlies an ongoing international debate on the organization and proper role of the world's media organizations as well as an ongoing debate in the United States as to whether or not information technology is public utility. Let us consider each of these in turn.

The United States is far and away the world's leading exporter of such media "staples" as films, television shows, and recorded music. Not only does this have an impact on the international economy, but it impacts the cultures of the countries that import the American product. Observers around the world point out that this imbalance puts the language, images, philosophies and ideas of American culture within reach of others, but that the others' cultures are not put in reach of Americans. In this way the American way of life, including the use of the electronic media themselves, is being promoted as a worldwide dominant culture. Some countries have banned United States entertainment media, or put limitations on their import while the debate on this issue continues.

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