"If a new means of communication makes its appearance, who are its patrons? If new knowledge is produced, who controls it and for what ends?"
"Satellites already have inspired one revolution in Asia. In the space of four years since Star TV was launched in Hong Kong on the Asiasat 1 spacecraft, satellite and cable have transformed the face of broadcasting in the region."
--Brian Jeffries 1
Writing a history of satellites in Asia is like building a house on quicksand. For a start, there are contextual problems with the term Asia. Questions that quickly spring to mind are: Precisely whose Asia are we talking about? Which Asia are we speaking of? Then there is the technology itself. Satellites are a comparatively recent addition to the repertoire of available communications media, and their status remains largely unresolved as other communications technologies compete for markets. Furthermore, conditions surrounding satellites in Asia are volatile: more satellites are launched; new regulations on their uses are announced by national governments; and new strategic alliances are forged among governments, satellite providers, and commercial broadcasters, thereby clouding the issues.
In short, identifying the major trends and contributions to the evolving mediascape of Asia is difficult because things change, quite literally, over night. Consequently, the following analysis of the forces shaping the current Asian communications satellite environment is necessarily provisional. One should bear in mind that contingency seems to be the overwhelming determinant of the direction the communications industry has taken in Asia. Nevertheless, it is appropriate that a history of satellites in Asia be begun--if for no other reason than that, within a rapidly changing scene, there is a need to chart the foundations of what has become a powerful regional force--before they, too, are clouded by the forces of change.
To understand how powerful an influence satellites have had, it is necessary to outline briefly the mass media systems of Asia that have been challenged by the new technology. The following discussion is a "broad-brush" approach. Clearly not all Asian media systems have developed along identical lines, nor have they been confronted with the same regulatory systems or subjected to the same levels of political censorship.  Nevertheless, one can say that almost without exception the modern mass media in Asia were introduced into the region by the colonial powers. Initially, it was the press, followed by radio then television, which formed the postcolonial Asian media inherited by the nationalist regimes and melded into indigenous ideological systems. The media became indissolubly linked to localized concepts of development, being assigned an entirely different sociopolitical function than that of the Western media. The media in Asia have developed within national ideological frameworks since at least the 1950s, and they are best exemplified by the Indonesian state ideology of pancasila.2
The significance of satellites lies in their potential to precisely and comprehensively subvert prior national systems of control of the media. The material presence of satellites in Asia has forced the various Asian governments to rethink their policies on broadcasting and communications. The corollary of this is that the political will of the Asian states to retain some vestige of control over their mediascape also has forced Western transnational broadcasters to reevaluate their broadcasting practices and ideologies.3
A second feature of satellites requiring elucidation is their scope. When Apstar 2 finally gets into orbit, it will have a footprint that covers the whole Eurasian landmass, part of East Africa, and the western Pacific rim. All political boundaries and topographical impedimenta will be transcended, fulfilling a trend begun in the Victorian era with the introduction of telegraphy.4 The geopolitical consequences inherent in this situation were recognized at the beginning of this century with the extension of telegraphy in the service of empire. As Halford J. Mackinder wrote in 1904: "For the first time we can perceive something of the real proportion of features and events on the stage of the whole world, and may seek a formula which shall express certain aspects . . . of geographical causation in universal history." For the first time in history, there was a potential for an "empire of the world" dominated by whoever controlled the pivot area or "heartland" of Eurasia.5
Satellites are more than artifacts of universal history, however. They also have profound commercial and cultural attributes. Since Rupert Murdoch purchased Star TV in 1993 from the Hong Kong company Hutchinson Whampoa,6 a number of other European and U.S. communications companies, such as Pearson and NBC, have entered the domain of Asian satellite broadcasting.7 There is a view, generated largely by Asia's booming economies, that Asia holds a vast market of consumers waiting to be serviced by an endless supply of consumer goods. In many respects, this view echoes that of the Manchester school of nineteenth-century England, which viewed China similarly as a vast market for their products and which influenced British foreign policy accordingly.8
 Technological issues also must be addressed. Three in particular stand out. First, the ability to develop and maintain a satellite infrastructure implies a powerful economic base and technological sophistication. Second, access to satellite technology also implies a complicated set of international relations. In reality, only the United States at the end of the Cold War had the necessary economic power to develop an autonomous satellite program. All other programs were hybrids combining, in varying degrees, local technology with imported technologies. Thus, the disastrous Apstar 2 launch in January 1995 combined a satellite developed by the American company Hughes Aerospace with a Chinese Long March rocket. The hybrid technology approach first developed in India where locally fabricated satellites were combined with either U.S., Russian, or French rockets throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Australia adopted similar strategies in the mid-1980s with the launch of AUSSAT. Europe has formed its own consortium to produce communications satellites and at the same time make the technology available to others who wish to put satellites into orbit. Thus, one can suggest that communications satellites are the product of complex global technological systems that include Asia structurally as a partner, unlike previous world communications systems that included Asia only as a client.
Finally, there is the question of the relationship between technology and culture. Social scientists still have a tendency to characterize explanatory systems of change that feature technology as deterministic.9 Unfortunately, the specter of technological determinism will not disappear, irrespective of whether it is couched in terms of "hard," "soft," or technological momentum when the relationship between technology and culture is discussed. The heat generated by discussions of technological determinism clarifies nothing. Regarding communications technologies, it would be preferable to use the Innisian term "bias."10 Harold A. Innis placed communications technologies at the core of cultural activity and argued, persuasively, that all such technologies have either a temporal or spatial bias. These arguments are well rehearsed and require little elaboration here,11 except to say that communications satellites have the most pronounced spatial bias of any communications technology yet devised. Apstar 2 is the exemplary case.
If we view communications satellites simply as artifacts, we can only formulate a partial account of their history. There is no doubt that technical developments in rocketry, solid state circuitry, digitization, and miniaturization all have played crucial roles in the unfolding history, and any comprehensive account has to accord them due significance. According to Carolyn Marvin, though, "the early history of electric media is less the evolution of technical efficiencies in communication than a series of arenas for negotiating issues crucial to the conduct of social life,"12 and "[W]hen audiences become organized around these uses, the history of the new medium begins."13 With these factors in mind, this discussion proposes a history of communications satellites in Asia that has three distinct stages--all of them linked to the development of television as a medium in Asia.
Stage one lasts approximately from 1962 until the late 1980s and is characterized by a perception that satellites should be harnessed for development purposes, placing them securely in the public sector sphere of broadcasting history. Stage two is a short, transitional period spanning the end of the 1980s and is characterized by a response among Asian governments to the end of the Cold War. Stage three begins in 1991 and is  characterized by the dominance of commercial forces in Asian broadcasting. In making these distinctions, they are not posited as exclusive. They are clearly not exclusive, as the transformation of development communication from a didactic practice to a postmodern application demonstrates.14 Moreover, public broadcasting retains a strong presence in Asia. In short, what are described here are dominant trends.
Asia officially entered the space age in 1965 with the founding of the Centre for Training and Research in Satellite Communication for Developing Countries in Ahmedabad, India, under the direction of Vikram A. Sarabhai, although research had begun earlier in 1962.15 This discussion of satellite communications in Asia during in the period 1965-1988 is organized around three themes: (1) the carryover of an ideology of public broadcasting into satellite communications that was consonant with Asian political ideals based on notions of development and nationalism; (2) a view that satellites were an expensive and scarce resource whose use should be limited to development communication; and (3) problems of regulation by international bodies that emphasized a "first-come, first-serve" basis--principals that were contentious because, even at the earliest stages, they were perceived as disadvantaging the developing nations. The period is also characterized by a shift away from India toward China as the principal space-oriented nation in Asia. The shift is emblematic of China's changing economic and political status in Asia, signifying changing geopolitical realities that will inform this discussion.
Sarabhai was both visionary and persuasive16 and had a clear agenda for satellite communications in India. That agenda was to serve the educational needs of India's rural population rather than the entertainment wants of the urban masses. He forcefully articulated a developmental ideology that has governed India's use of satellites until very recently. It must be acknowledged, however, that broadcasting in India at the time was not only limited, but highly bureaucratized, and it was aimed principally at education and information, placing a very low priority on entertainment. Thus, both terrestrial and satellite communications in India were locked into the public sphere and organized accordingly.
It was not just domestic policy that shaped Indian space policy in this period. Under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru, India became the leading exponent of nonalignment in international affairs and thus sought aid and advice from both sides in the Cold War. This policy applied to satellite technology as much as any other aspect of Indian realpolitik. Between 1967 and 1979, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) cooperated with NASA, the Soviet Union, and the Franco-German Symphonie program on space projects. In 1967, ISRO negotiated with NASA for access to its Applications Technology Satellite (ATS)-6 spacecraft for one year to conduct the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE). In 1975, India launched its Aryabhata research satellite using a Soviet rocket in 1975, and later, during 1977-1979, India conducted the Symphonie Telecommunications Experimental Project (STEP) with the Franco-German Symphonie satellite administration. The outcome of these collaborations was that India had the most advanced space program in Asia by the end of the 1970s. This effort probably for the most part dissipated because it was too oriented toward development and too heavily bureaucratized. The experience of SITE exemplifies the situation that developed.
 In 1967, engineers from ISRO visited NASA to study the ATS-6 satellite to assess whether its capabilities suited their needs for developing SITE, a rural-based instructional network in India. The manner in which SITE was set up, organized, operated (1975-1976), and evaluated is now well known.17 What SITE revealed was a set of fissures within the Indian state apparatus. By placing responsibility for SITE in the hands of the ISRO, the government unwittingly turned it into a site of conflict over who "owned" the public sphere. Doordarshan (the Indian national television broadcaster) felt it had sole responsibility for broadcasting; officials from the Ministry of Telecommunications argued that they controlled telephony. The other administrative units, such as health, education, agriculture, and family planning, for whose programs the technology was specifically designed to facilitate, felt that the experiment was a drain on their respective resources.18 Its problems were even more acute, however; the program had no concept of an audience--neither its needs nor its desires.
SITE serviced 2,400 remote villages, each of which was supplied with battery-driven television sets under the care of a village guardian. Specially designed programs were broadcast and then evaluated by teams of academic sociologists, psychologists, and developmental theorists. In retrospect, SITE was a classic example of top-down planning and execution divorced from the needs of its clientele. Leela Rao points out that the custodian of the television set was the single most important component of the chain of command. Quite frequently, these individuals were teachers who, as the state's chief functionary in the village, had a range of activities competing for their time and attention.19 In most cases, they placed television last in their priorities. Moreover, although SITE's ideology was vigorously anti-entertainment, it was the popular Hindi films screened on Sunday nights that attracted the largest audiences and that significantly provided the programs audiences remembered best.20 The net effect of SITE was to lock India into a terrestrial system of broadcasting and telecommunications that only ceased to dominate in the 1990s.
India continued to develop expertise in space and satellite technology through the 1970s and 1980s. However, it was expertise largely directed toward servicing the Indian bureaucracy rather than the population at large. It was also expertise that was rigorously localized. India manufactured the components used in SITE--a fact determined by India's economic policy of self-sufficiency. During 1981-1982, STEP involved a satellite "designed and fabricated in India"21 and launched on an Ariane rocket. The expertise thus acquired was translated into the INSAT project, which included four Indian satellites launched between 1982 and 1985. The problem of the excess technical capacity created by those launches was solved only by the move away from the public sphere and developmental ideology of the 1960s and 1970s to the marketplace ideology that currently prevails. Nevertheless, television expanded exponentially throughout India, as INSAT became operational, and created a massive rural and urban audience for entertainment programs. Television also became the site for increasing political argument and intellectual dispute, as India moved away from a command to a market economy.22
 The second country in Asia to acquire a regional communications satellite was Indonesia, which launched Palapa 1 in 1976. The name Palapa is highly significant in the lexicon of Indonesian political ideology; it has symbolized harmony and unity to Indonesian people since at least the thirteenth century. The introduction of Palapa 1, according to Philip Kitely, was "driven by political and ideological imperatives concerned with nation building and circulation of ideas of national culture."23 Indonesia is an archipelagic nation formed in 1945 and composed of more than 300 ethnic groups with as many languages and dialects. Bahasa Indonesian was invented as a language in the 1920s and adopted during the 1930s as the national language by the nationalists, who consciously used the mass media and education to establish it on a national footing. However, Bahasa has always coexisted in tension with local and regional languages, and it could never be guaranteed preeminence in the face of tradition and custom until the advent of satellite broadcasting. Technocrats who came to prominence in the administration of Indonesia during the 1970s realized that the spatial and cultural bias of satellites served their ideological ends well and advocated the introduction of communications satellites during the early 1970s. In 1976, Indonesia became the third country in the world, after Canada and the United States,24 to install a geostationary satellite for domestic communications purposes.
The introduction of Palapa 1 accelerated the growth of television and telecommunications in Indonesia. The government funded the construction of an additional eleven ground stations, which distributed the state-owned TVRI channel throughout Indonesia. Moreover, private capital constructed television stations on the outer islands, giving rise to a commercial regional television system.25 However, these private regional stations were prohibited, by law, from broadcasting nationally, which was the preserve of the state-owned TVRI channel. The public nature of television in Indonesia was enhanced in 1981 when advertising was banned. Up until that time, TVRI had carried advertising, which covered more than 90 percent of its production costs by 1976-1977.26 The ban on advertising marked a particular stage in developmental thinking in Indonesia, which emphasized industrial development within a framework of "balanced growth."27
The particular convergence of satellites with state-directed patterns of growth had two unintended consequences for communication in Indonesia. First, the use of satellites to distribute information meant that audiences were no longer dependent on terrestrial services to receive images, messages, and meanings. From the early 1980s, a proliferation of privately owned parabolic dishes in urban centers had a profound effect on television watching in Indonesia.28 The possession of a parabola effectively meant that viewers were no longer dependent on locally produced television for information and entertainment; they could tune in to any provider that was beaming in their direction. CNNI (Cable News ....
....Network International) thus gained a foothold in the middle-class, tertiary-educated Indonesian audience. The ban on advertisements also had an impact on Indonesian television insofar as it "lessened TVRI's appeal."29 This in turn encouraged viewers to sample foreign language programming--meaning that, almost by default, Indonesia acquired an "open skies" satellite-broadcasting policy that has been quite at odds with the communications policies of its neighbors.
The second important consequence was that Indonesia became a regional distributor of television programming. Intelsat's initial approval for Palapa forbade international broadcasting, but the Asian Broadcasting Union began using the service for program exchange. By 1981, Thailand and Pakistan booked time on the satellite for their own domestic programming because it was cheaper than Intelsat.30 Indonesia became both a domestic and international supplier of satellite broadcasting within a very short time period--something that has developed considerably as Indonesia has improved its satellite capacity. ATV, the Australian international television service, has rented a transponder from Palapa since its inception in 1993.31
During the mid-1980s, three events occurred in Indonesia that radically altered the national mediascape--all of which were related to both satellite communication and domestic politics. First, in 1986, advertising was reintroduced to Indonesian television. Second, in 1989, RCTI (Rajawah Citra Televisi Indonesia), the first commercially owned  television station, was established in Jakarta. Third, in 1993, the Indonesian government lifted the bans preventing the commercial regional broadcasters from broadcasting nationally. Subsequently, RCTI rapidly became Indonesia's most popular television station.
While the state retained ultimate control over broadcasting, the dominance of commercial television over the state system in Indonesia is a manifestation of what Philip Kitely has called "patrimonial relations."32 RCTI is controlled by one of President Suharto's sons, TPI (the educational broadcaster) is run by a daughter, and the owners of the other commercial stations have strong links to Suharto family interests.
The other Asian nation in which notions of the public sphere and the public good shaped attitudes toward satellite communication is China, of course. China is discussed more extensively below, but two points should be made here. Compared with India and Indonesia, China entered the realm of satellite broadcasting relatively late, launching its first geostationary satellite in 1983. It can be argued that this delay reflected certain attitudes toward communication and technology within the Chinese ideological framework between 1949 and 1977, in which communication was geared around pervasiveness with minimum technology--namely, the press, radio, and loudspeaker.33 Television, as a late addition to the repertoire of propaganda tools available to the Communist Party of China, never acquired the same status for propaganda as the press or radio, both of which resonated with Maoist principles about the mass line. Indeed, Chinese authorities have tended to see television largely in terms of entertainment rather than political ideology--a view shared by the audience. Consequently, the provision of communications satellites to distribute television was not a high priority of the Chinese government. In the period following the introduction of the Deng economic reforms in 1977, however, television underwent a surge in terms of both hardware and interest among audiences. Instead of being a scarce resource, television became commonplace throughout China and built up expectations among the audience that the government found difficult to meet.34
As in India and Indonesia, television in China underwent dramatic changes during the 1980s, with the introduction of advertising, access to foreign programming, and the presence of transborder communication through Star TV. Nonetheless, the evolution of television from the public sphere to the marketplace in China is less pronounced than in India or Indonesia, because the Chinese state has applied a unique set of conditions on its development.
No one event can be identified as the causal factor in bringing about the change from public sphere broadcasting to commercially dominated broadcasting in Asia. A combination of exogenous and exogamous factors are at play. Similar to the rest of the world, public sphere broadcasting in Asia came under attack for economic and ideological reasons.35 Moreover, Asia became enmeshed in international broadcasting events through Intelsat and the various nongovernmental organizations responsible for the regulation of global broadcasting, such as the allocation of orbit slots.36
 The shifts in the changing mediascapes of India, Indonesia, and China outlined above are in line with trends in international communication. Running parallel with these trends is the remarkable economic transformation that has gripped Asia since the mid-1980s, especially in urban centers. This economic transformation has led to significant changes in consumption habits, some would argue, fueled by television. The internal dynamic of countries such as China and Indonesia, which will have the first and fifth largest economies, respectively, in terms of gross domestic product by the year 2020,37 contribute greatly toward changing technological patterns. Significantly, however, these changes emerged and developed as the Cold War ended, suggesting that the respective governments and peoples took stock of the situation and then developed new social and cultural practices that access to television encapsulated. Throughout Asia during the late 1980s, television became a common item in the domestic setting, creating audiences who developed both expectations about what they wished to see and sophisticated ways of looking at what they saw. Returning to Carolyn Marvin, the history of the medium begins "when audiences become organized around . . . uses."38
Much of what has happened in Asia between 1990 and 1995 regarding satellite communications is too recent and too complex for detailed analysis in a work of this scope. However, it is argued here that the transformation of communications in Asia associated with the introduction of satellite transmission is unprecedented. So powerful is the perceived influence of satellite broadcasting that we find Asian governments adopting contradictory positions regarding their regulation. National governments variously have invented ideological systems to combat the cultural pollution that satellites are alleged to bring in their wake, and at the same time they have competed fiercely to enter the satellite age: all self-respecting Asian countries now have a satellite or at least rent transponder space.
Furthermore, satellite relations are no longer conducted on a government-to-government basis. When Rupert Murdoch visits an Asian country, he is virtually accorded "head-of-nation" status. When he visited India in 1993, it was alleged that all that was missing was the twenty-one-gun salute. Murdoch was the most obvious example of this trend, but as other powerful commercial interests enter the satellite field, an analysis of their operations becomes as much a question of market relations as international relations between governments. Complicating this even further are the nongovernmental organizations, such as the Asian Broadcasting Union, the International Telecommunications Union, and UNESCO, which play a regulatory role. Thus, contemporary conditions surrounding satellite communications in Asia involve three levels at the very least: commercial enterprises (both indigenous and transnational), the nation-state, and nongovernmental organizations. These relationships are explored here with reference to three aspects of the current situation--namely, the introduction of Star TV into Asia, recent developments in China, and telecommunications.
Although it was previously argued that there is no one dominant causal event shaping recent developments in satellite communications in Asia, there can be no doubt also that the launch of Asiasat 1 in 1990 radically altered the communications equation in the region. It dramatically extended the broadcast footprint covering virtually all of the  western Pacific rim, Central Asia, and South Asia, providing a potential audience of three billion persons to advertisers. It also was privately owned rather than a state initiative. The principals were CTI (China), Hutchinson Whampoa (Hong Kong), and Cable and Wireless (Britain). Star (Satellite Television Asia Region) TV was created shortly after--mainly through the initiative of Richard Li, son of Li Ka-shang, a Hong Kong property developer, a billionaire, and a principal of Hutchinson Whampoa.
Around the same period as the launch of Asiasat 1, China (ChinaSat 3), Indonesia (Palapa B2R), Japan, and India all launched communications satellites, presenting Star TV with massive competition at the national level. Consequently, Star TV had to invent Pan-Asian broadcasting. It did so by developing strategies whereby it piggybacked existing services, such as BBCWST (BBC World Service Television), MTV, and ESPN, while at the same time developing its own production profile. There was a degree of ambivalence toward Star TV on the part of the television industry in Asia and the various nation-states. As a new concept, it faced considerable criticism and misunderstanding. For example, the Chinese were always suspicious of transborder broadcasting for ideological reasons. The fact that Star TV carried BBCWST, which offended Chinese authorities on a number of occasions, fueled their suspicions. Hong Kong, the base for Star TV, was reluctant to let them broadcast into the colony. The greatest enthusiasm for Star TV came from the transnational advertising industry, which grasped at the possibility of creating a vast Pan-Asian consumer market. However, what transformed Star TV from a marginal operation in global broadcasting was News Corporation's (Murdoch's) decision to purchase a 64-percent controlling interest in Star TV for $550 million (U.S. dollars) in 1993. Murdoch quietly purchased the remaining stock in January 1995, thereby gaining total control of the broadcasting company, although the original partners retained control of the satellite, and Richard Li kept the Hong Kong broadcast license.39
Murdoch's pronouncement that "the advancements in the technology of telecommunications have proved an unambiguous threat to totalitarian regimes everywhere"40 highlights the potential for ideological conflict over satellite broadcasting in Asia. China immediately banned its citizens from watching Star and other transborder television programs. As John Sinclair pointed out, "the announcement, which was designed for consumption by Western shareholders of News Corporation, seemed a fair characterization of the attitude with which national leaders in the erstwhile Third World regarded this new technology in the 1970s and 1980s. Yet it has proved hollow. . . ."41 Under Murdoch, Star TV continued a Pan-Asian approach built around English as the major linguistic medium and his American Fox Television product, but the loss of the Chinese market made that strategy problematic. Aggressive marketing in India and the eventual purchase of 49.9 percent of Zee TV in December 1994 partially compensated for the loss of China. However, Star TV also continued to attract political and cultural criticism from other Asian states. Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamed Mahathir proved the most forceful critic; he suggested that Murdoch was seeking to impose Western values on Asia and thereby corrupt and pollute Asian societies, while at the same time controlling Asian broadcasting.42 Such criticism was damaging and led Star to develop more "culturally sensitive" programming. Meanwhile, Murdoch practiced shuttle diplomacy, meeting with Malaysian, Indian, Japanese, and Indonesian leaders seeking to establish Star TV in their nations. Star also  dropped BBCWST from its northeast Asian transponder in an effort to mollify the Chinese authorities and at the same time promised "noncontroversial" programming on its northeast service.43
Underlying much of the discussion about satellite communications are assumptions about globalism and the demise of the nation-state. Marjorie Ferguson has questioned these assumptions and shown them to be fallacious.44 The Asian experience tends to support Ferguson's contention that arguments about globalism are predicated on the desire of capitalism to maximize its profitability. The Economist 45 observed that Murdoch had been savaged economically by his experience with Sky television in Britain and that there was no economic nor commercial evidence to suggest that Star TV would perform any better in the short to mid-term. Indeed, it was announced in the fall of 1995 that Star TV would lose $100 million in the next year,46 significantly higher than previously published figures. It is clear that if Star TV is to succeed financially, it cannot afford to offend the leaders of the Asian states, and it has begun to develop programming strategies accordingly. Consequently, critics see Star as becoming more anodyne and commercially oriented, seeking security for its investment rather than blazing a trail for democracy in Asia.47
The point here is that Star TV, through its praxis, has thrown into doubt all of the prognoses about the impending demise of the nation-state. On the contrary, what the Star TV experience has demonstrated is that while transborder broadcasting via satellite has had a profound effect on the way terrestrial mediascapes are organized, it in no way undermines national sovereignty unless the government has lost the "mandate of heaven." China's role in this unfolding history is a case in point.
China has a comprehensive domestic satellite system that was established in 1983 with the launch of ChinaSat 1. China, including Tibet, is serviced by satellite television; even the most remote areas have access to a minimum of four Central China Television (CCTV) channels. In the larger urban areas, audiences can access up to twenty-two channels. In addition to this domestic service, China, if it chooses, may access a full range of global and regional satellite services. For example, the Indonesian Palapa C series satellites include southern China within their footprint. Despite the fact that there are an estimated 40,000 parabolic dishes in China, none of these services are accessed except under the most stringent of conditions. The Chinese polity always has assumed that it has total control over communications within its boundaries, irrespective of its political allegiances, and the present decaying regime always has resisted transborder incursions.
Surprisingly, the 1993 bans on relaying Star TV signals throughout China have been successful for two reasons. First, when the government issued new regulations that limited satellite reception to three categories of receivers (foreign enclaves, luxury hotels, and selected educational institutions),48 it had the support of the Chinese television industry. Since 1985, the Chinese television industry has been owned by the state, but it has operated along commercial lines. The industry was unhappy that much needed advertising revenue was being denied by transborder broadcasting. Second, since the late 1980s, the Chinese television industry had become professionalized. Although ideologues still hold  key positions within the Chinese media administration, the numerous local television stations that form the Chinese hybrid television infrastructure of cable, microwave, and satellite are staffed by people driven by professional concerns. Chinese programs are now slickly produced and marketed.
As television became woven into the fabric of contemporary Chinese life,49 the authorities understood that they had to continue providing a service similar to that which had developed between 1980 and 1993, when foreign programming had been freely available. The Chinese government opted for a fully developed cable system, believing that it provided greater opportunity for the effortless control of the circulation of meanings.50 More than 5,000 cable operations exist in China. Many of these are Industrial Community Television operations set up during the 1970s and early 1980s to enhance the spread of CCTV throughout China, while others are clearly illegal operations. The largest cable operators, such as those in Shanghai, Beijing, and Wuhan, have an estimated 700,000, 600,000, and 300,000 subscribers, respectively.
By attempting to create an environment that protects their communications integrity and political sovereignty, the Chinese authorities have created a highly contradictory situation for their regime. Satellites transcend space and create highly centralized institutions, as well as particular textual communities51 consonant with Chinese political theories that have emphasized centralized authority as the preferred model. In contrast, cable television tends to lean toward regionalism, both in terms of pragmatics and as a bias. In China, this problem is best exemplified in language. As W.J.F. Jenner pointed out,52 when we talk about Chinese dialects, we are accepting a centralized view of the world. What
passes for dialects in China are mutually unintelligible languages bound together by a universalizing script. Until now, no other medium of communication has been sufficiently powerful to challenge this particular hegemony. Television may be the exception. A system based essentially along regional lines presents centralist ideologies with particular problems, not the least of which is a tendency for local languages to be heard more frequently. This fact has not escaped the attention of the Chinese Ministry of Radio, Film, and Television, which has decided to reintroduce the concept of "one region, one network," in which domestic satellites combine with cable to ensure the central authorities a degree of control, as the prevailing broadcasting model for China in the 1990s. This suggests that in a mediascape increasingly shaped by new communications technologies, nation-states may survive the trend toward globalism for particularistic cultural reasons, but may not survive the forces of localism. In many respects, the nation-states of Asia, as creations of colonial powers in an earlier stage of globalism, are better equipped to confront the issues of globalism than the problems associated with the premodern articulated in localistic demands for ethnopolitical autonomy.
One may be forgiven for thinking from this account that communications satellites are concerned almost exclusively with problems of transborder television. This is clearly not the case; communications satellites are capable of much more than merely broadcasting television signals. Indeed, it may be that the role satellites have in the global capital system--facilitating the instantaneous global electronic transfer of trillions of dollars on a daily basis--is more culturally transformative than the broadcast of soap operas.  Furthermore, their increasing role in expanding telephony also may have radical implications for Asian cultures. It is to this aspect of communications satellites that this discussion turns.
With the exceptions of Singapore and Hong Kong, terrestrial telephone services in Asia are antiquated and generally inefficient. For example, it can take up to two years to have a telephone installed in China, following normal channels. Communications satellites have altered this situation dramatically. Handheld telephony has developed into an area of intense activity and competition throughout Asia. What we are witnessing is a convergence of Western technology and local capital to establish satellite-driven technologies that bypass older systems of telephony. Three examples will illustrate the significance of this trend.
Asia Cellular Satellite Systems (known as ACeS) is based in Jakarta, financed by Indonesian, Filipino, and Thai capital, and uses American technology (Lockheed Martin satellites and rockets). It will service India, Bangladesh, Burma, China, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Indochina, Thailand, Malaysia, and Burma. The Afro-Asian Satellite Company is financed with Indian money and serviced by the Hughes Space and Communication International. Asia Pacific Mobile Telecom is jointly owned by China (75 percent) and Singapore (25 percent); Hughes, Lockheed Martin, and Space Systems/Lorel are all bidding to supply the technology. Moreover, we are not discussing geostationary satellites here; the companies involved in expanding telephony in Asia are exploring medium and low satellite orbits as options for providing services.53 This suggests that the technological lag of the past between East and West in most cases has dissipated.
Parabolic dishes and handheld telephones are largely the domain of the Asian middle classes, but their potential to alter endogamous cultural relations may be of greater significance than television's capacity to effect changes, which has attracted so much attention. The systems structured around telephony are more intensely personal and immediate than television; they impact directly on individual temporal and spatial regimes in unprecedented and novel ways.54 By contrast, Asia has been imbricated in various economic world systems since the Roman era, because its products have been in high demand on world markets. Asian cultures have learned to deal effectively with foreign economic and cultural incursions. Global economic systems are not new phenomena; it is the conditions under which they operate to establish economic ascendancy that has changed. In his classic account of the Canadian fur industry, Harold Innis observed that the "First People of North America" became enmeshed in an international economic system with the sale of their first fur to a trader.55 Communications satellites in Asia, to a degree, register a set of changing economic power relations where technological transfer is being replaced by technological dialogue--for example, Hughes Space, Lockheed Martin, and Space Systems/Lorel bid for Asian business. Their success in this arena becomes crucial to their success as commercial operators, which can be viewed as radically different from the Asian engineers who went to NASA during the 1960s to learn about space technology.
 However, it is the impact made by technologies at the microlevel that is ultimately more important. Few media analysts in the West accept any longer the "bullet theory of communications" that grants the sender almost total control in the communicative process. Rather, the receiver is perceived as the most important element in the communications chain. This perception has led to notions of the active audience becoming dominant in thinking about the relationship among text, audience, and the institutions of communications. This notion has been articulated clearly in respect to television viewing, but not so clearly in respect to the new telecommunications technologies. Nevertheless, there may be a degree of correlation between the active television audience and the active user of telecommunications. Furthermore, if we accept that the Western audience is an active producer of meaning, we also must accept that Asian audiences are active in the same way. Any other approach is fraught with dangers. Yet, much of the discussion around the supposed impact of the new communications technologies on Asian audiences and receivers is couched in terms of the passive. It is alleged that television introduces concepts and ideas that traduce Asian cultures, corrupt the young, and pollute the moral environment. These arguments are probably peddled not because the speakers believe them, but because they believe that the messages the technologies make available to the mass audiences, apparently without effort, challenge the established bases of power. Herein lies the terrain of the history of communications in Asia that has yet to be written.
Asia has been part of the global satellite communications scene since the 1960s, when Intelsat parked its second satellite over the Pacific Ocean. However, the major distinguishing feature of satellite communications in the region has been the way in which it has accelerated from a scarce resource to one of abundance. Between 1966 and 1996, the number of satellites serving Asia has increased from one to forty-six.56 It is too early to pronounce what effect they have had, although it can be suggested that whatever the outcome, their impact will be profound and more pronounced at the domestic than the international level.
It can also be suggested that all technologies have a contradictory potential57; they do not behave in the way they are expected to act. For example, it is now clear that the new communications technologies, including satellites, have not killed off the newspaper as was predicted. On the contrary, the press in Asia is booming, especially at the regional level, in the local vernaculars. Two examples will suffice. In India, the local vernacular press has mobilized the new technologies to its own advantages and expanded dramatically.58 In Surabaya, East Java, the Jawa Pos has increased its circulation from approximately 50,000 to more than 350,000 in five years. It is a dedicated exponent of using modern communications technology in production.59 So much for the forces of homogenization and standardization supposedly inherent in the technology!
 On a more cautious note, it is clear that communications satellites in Asia are still confronted by technical and cultural problems. Technically, there is the issue of orbit allocation, which is also a geopolitical issue, as well as the problem of congestion. Economically, there is the problem of oversupply; forty-odd satellites with an increasing number of more powerful transponders is an issue to be explored in its own right. Culturally, there is the problem of enunciation: whose voice is to be heard? Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir has called for an Islamic satellite to provide services to Arabia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. The most obvious question here is: Whose version of Islam will prevail? That of Iran or Saudi Arabia? These are essentially political problems, but problems of cultural identity and national sovereignty remain to be resolved as well. What is suggested here is that the presence of communications satellites in the Asian context is highly significant, but problematic.
In constructing a partial history of the present, one must be conscious of what is not said. In this context, Japan has hardly been mentioned and the role of radio ignored. However, in analyzing communications satellites in Asia within a historical perspective, this discussion has tried to suggest both a trajectory of development for satellites and a way of looking at the relationship between technology and culture that escapes the strictures of technological determinism.
1. Brian Stock, Listening for the Text: On the Uses of the Past (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), p. 21; Brian Jeffries, "The Sky's the Limit," Far Eastern Economic Review 158 (1995): 49.
2. The five principles of pancasila are: belief in a single supreme God; a just and civilized humanity; national unity; democracy, led by the wisdom of consensus among representatives; and social justice for the people of Indonesia. Edward Janner Sinaga, "Indonesia," in Achal Mehra, ed., Press Systems in ASEAN States (Singapore: Asian Mass Communication Research and Information Centre (AMIC), 1989), pp. 27-39, esp. p. 27.
3. John Sinclair, "The Business of International Broadcasting: Cultural Bridges and Barriers," paper read at Communications Research Forum, Sydney, 19-20 October 1995; Will Atkins, " 'Friendly and Useful': Rupert Murdoch and the Politics of Television in Southeast Asia, 1993-95," Media International Australia 77 (August 1995): 54-64.
4. James W. Carey, Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989), pp. 201-23; Daniel Czitrom, Media and the American Mind: From Morse to McLuhan (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1982), pp. 11-12.
5. Cited in Stephen Kern, The Culture of Time and Space, 1880-1918 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983), p. 228.
6. Atkins, " 'Friendly and Useful'," pp. 54-64.
7. Nick Masters, "UK's Pearson secures a significant stake in TVB," Televisionasia, March 1995, p. 8.
8. Mary Clabaugh Wright, The Last Stand of Chinese Conservatism: The T'ung-Chih Restoration, 1862-1874 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1957), pp. 23-33.
9. Merrit Roe Smith and Leo Marx, eds., Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994), passim.
10. Harold A. Innis, The Bias of Communication (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991), passim.
11. William Melody, Liorar Salter, and Paul Heyer, eds., Culture, Communication and Dependency: The Tradition of H.A. Innis (Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1981), passim; David Crowley and Paul Heyer, Communication and History, first ed. (New York: Longmans, 1991), passim.
12. Carolyn Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking About Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 4.
13. Ibid., p. 5.
14. Pat Howard, "The Confrontation of Modern and Traditional Knowledge Systems in Development," Canadian Journal of Communication 19 (1994), http://edie.cprost.sfu.ca/cjc/cjc-info.html.
15. Heather Hudson, Communication Satellites: Their Development and Impact (New York: The Free Press, 1990), pp. 202-07.
16. Ibid., p. 202.
17. Leela Rao, "Medium and the Message: an Indian experience," in Neville Jayaweera and Sarath Anunugama, eds., Rethinking Development Communication (Singapore: AMIC, 1987), pp. 176-90; Srinivas R. Melkote, Communication for Development in the Third World: Theory and Practice (New Delhi: Sage, 1991), passim; Hudson, Communication Satellites, pp. 202-04.
18. Hudson, Communication Satellites, p. 203.
19. Rao, "Medium and the Message," p. 188.
20. Ibid., pp. 188-89.
21. Hudson, Communication Satellites, p. 204.
22. Geoffrey W. Reeves, Indian Television: The State, Privatisation and the Struggle for Autonomy, Occasional Paper 3 (Perth: Centre for Asian Communication and Media Studies, 1994).
23. Philip Kitely, "Fine Tuning Control: Commercial Television in Indonesia," Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media and Culture 8 (1994): 102-23, esp. 103.
24. There is confusion on this issue. The Soviet Union is usually written out of the equation. The countries are the United States, Canada, and Indonesia.
25. Kitely, "Fine Tuning Control," p. 104.
27. Howard Dick, James J. Fox, and Jamie Mackie, eds., Balanced Development: East Java in the New Order (London: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 13.
28. Brian Shoesmith and Hart Cohen, "Cultural Values of Media and Asian Audiences: Local Responses to Global Media," forthcoming in Asian Journal of Communications. These comments also are based on research conducted in East Java during 1994-1995 on the impact of satellite broadcasting on the middle classes of Surabaya with the author's colleagues Hart Cohen (University of Western Sydney at Nepean), Basis Susilo, Andarini Susanto, Rachmah Ida, and Emy Susanto (Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Univeritas Airlangga, Surabaya).
29. Kitely, "Fine Tuning Control," p. 105.
30. AMIC, Satellite Technology: The Communication Equaliser: An AMIC Compilation (Singapore: AMIC, 1985), p. 76.
31. Brian Shoesmith, "Asia in Their Shadow: Asia and Satellites," Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science 22 (1994): 125-43.
32. Kitely, "Fine Tuning Control," p. 116.
33. A. Doak Barnett, Jr., "China: Some Generalizations, Hypotheses, and Questions for Research," in Mass Communication Review Yearbook, Vol. 1 (London: Sage, 1980), pp. 620-27.
34. Wang Handong, "Chinese Television in the 1990s," in Brian Shoesmith, ed., Three Aspects of the Chinese Media (Perth: Centre for Asian Communication, Media and Cultural Studies, 1996); James Lull, China Turned On: Television, Reform and Resistance (London: Routledge, 1991).
35. Jonathan Karp, "TV Times," Far Eastern Economic Review 157 (15 December 1994): 56-60.
36. Hudson, Communication Satellites, pp. 251-62.
37. "War of the Worlds: A Survey of the Global Economy," Economist 333 (October 1994): 1-44.
38. Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New, p. 5.
39. Atkins, " 'Friendly and Useful'," pp. 54-64.
40. Stephen Hutcheon, "Murdoch Makes Amends," The Age 27 (January 1995), p. 11.
41. John Sinclair, "The Business of International Broadcasting: Cultural Bridges and Barriers," paper read at the Communications Research Forum, Sydney, 19-20 October 1995, p. 3.
42. Brian Shoesmith, "Asia in Their Shadow: Asia and Satellites," Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science 22 (1994): 125-43; Atkins, " 'Friendly and Useful'," pp. 54-64.
43. Geetikar Pathania, "Ambivalence in STAR-ry Eyed Land: Doordarshan and the Satellite Television Challenge," Sagar 1 (1994), http://asnic.utexas.edu/asnic/sagar/sagar.main.html.
44. Marjorie Ferguson, "The Mythology About Globalization," European Journal of Communication 1 (1992): 69-93.
45. "Murdoch's Asian Bet," The Economist 328 (31 July 1993): 13-14.
46. Deborah Brewster, "$1.34 bn Profit a News Record," The Australian, 23 August 1995, p. 42.
47. Pathania, "Ambivalence in STAR-ry Eyed Land."
48. Joseph Man Chan, "National Responses and Accessibility to STAR TV in Asia," Journal of Communication 44 (1994): 112-31.
49. James Lull, China Turned On: Television, Reform and Resistance (London: Routledge, 1991), passim.
50. These comments are based on research conducted in Wuhan, People's Republic of China, in 1995 with the author's colleague Wang Handong (Wuhan University).
51. On textual communities, see Stock, Listening for the Text, passim; Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New, passim.
52. W.J.F. Jenner, The Tyranny of History: The Roots of China's Crisis (London: Penguin, 1994), passim.
53. Faith Keenan, "Looks Who's Talking: Newcomers Face Huge Risks as Well as Vast Potential Markets," Far Eastern Economic Review 158 (1995): 38-46.
54. The author's postgraduate student Kenneth Staples is currently researching the mobile phone in Perth. One of his findings is how people rethink their ideas about place when they begin using a mobile phone.
55. Harold A. Innis, The Fur Trade of Canada: An Introduction to Canadian Economic History, rev. ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970), passim.
56. "Regional Satellites," AsiaPacific Satellite 1 (March 1995): 18-23.
57. Daniel Drache, "Introduction," in Harold A. Innis, ed., Staples, Markets, and Cultural Change: Selected Essays (Kingston, Ont.: McGill/Queen's University Press, 1995), pp. xii-lix.
58. Hamish McDonald, "Paper Tigers," Far Eastern Economic Review 158 (1995): 24-26, esp. 26.
59. See note 3. The Jawa Pos employs thirty-eight journalists in Surabaya to produce a major regional newspaper. To achieve impressive results, the paper has invested heavily in modern technology, including renting a transponder to communicate between Jakarta and Surabaya.