Media Aid Beyond the Factual: Culture, Development, and Audiovisual Assistance


  • Benjamin Pearson University of Michigan


media assistance, audiovisual assistance, cultural assistance, culture, development, UNESCO, European Union, Richard Hoggart, ACP-Films, ACP Cultures


This paper discusses audiovisual assistance, a form of development aid that focuses on the production and distribution of cultural and entertainment media such as fictional films and TV shows. While the first audiovisual assistance program dates back to UNESCO’s International Fund for the Promotion of Culture in the 1970s, the past two decades have seen a proliferation of audiovisual assistance that, I argue, is related to a growing concern for culture in post-2015 global development agendas. In this paper, I examine the aims and motivations behind the EU’s audiovisual assistance programs to countries in the Global South, using data from policy documents and semi-structured, in-depth interviews with Program Managers and administrative staff in Brussels. These programs prioritize forms of audiovisual content that are locally specific, yet globally tradable. Furthermore, I argue that they have an ambivalent relationship with traditional notions of international development, one that conceptualizes media not only as a means to achieve economic development and human rights aims, but as a form of development itself.

Author Biography

Benjamin Pearson, University of Michigan

Benjamin A. J. Pearson is a PhD candidate in Communication Studies at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the relationship between development, policy, and media in a globalized context. Before attending the University of Michigan, Benjamin completed an MA in Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College, and an MA in Euroculture (European Integration Studies) at Universidad de Deusto and Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.


How to Cite

Pearson, B. (2015). Media Aid Beyond the Factual: Culture, Development, and Audiovisual Assistance. Global Media Journal - German Edition, 4(2). Retrieved from