NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 7, 2004

Many governments around the world are concerned that consumption of American culture will weaken their own national identities. But this so-called "Cultural Imperialism" is really a two-way street, says the Cato Institute.

Canada, for instance, a heavy importer of American film and one of the strongest backers of the International Network on Cultural Policy (INCP) - an international organization designed to encourage consumers to buy more locally produced culture - gets more out of movies than simply quality entertainment, notes Cato:

  • America studios produce dozens of films in Canada each year, creating many jobs for Canadians.
  • Total foreign location shooting in Canada contributes as much as $1.2 billion annually to the Canadian economy.

The worldwide demand for the products of America's copyright industries -- computer software, music recordings, and motion pictures -- accounts for a combined $90 billion in annual exports.

Yet, clumsy interventionist policies, such as promoting local arts and film through subsidies and tax incentives, limiting foreign ownership of media outlets, and supporting public broadcasting, are based on the simplistic and short-sighted view that trade is zero-sum game with a winner and a loser, says Cato.

Source: Neil Hrab, "Trade Wars and the Silver Screen," Cato Institute, Summer 2004.

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