Media imperialism (sometimes referred to as cultural imperialism) is an area in the international political economy of communications research tradition that focuses on how "all Empires, in territorial or nonterritorial forms, rely upon communications technologies and mass media industries to expand and shore up their economic, geopolitical, and cultural influence." In the main, most media imperialism research examines how the unequal relations of economic, military and cultural power between an imperialist country and those on the receiving end of its influence tend to be expressed and perpetuated by mass media and cultural industries.
In the 1970s, research on media imperialism was mainly concerned with the expansion of US-based news and entertainment corporations, business models, and products into postcolonial countries as related to the problems of communication and media sovereignty, national identity formation and democracy. In the 21st century, research on media imperialism probes the whole gamut of the media, for example, how an Empire's global economic, military and cultural expansion and legitimization is supported by "the news, telecommunications, film and TV, advertising and public relations, music, interactive games, and internet platforms and social media sites."
For the past seventy years, media imperialism research has been undertaken by a wide range of international communication and media studies scholars, North and South. Some of the key researchers in this area are: Oliver Boyd-Barrett, Luis R. Beltrán and Elizabeth Fox, Ariel Dorfman, Thomas Guback, Cees Hamelink, Dal Yong Jin, Armand Mattelart, Robert W. McChesney, Tom McPhail, Toby Miller and Richard Maxwell, Tanner Mirrlees, David Morley, Graham Murdock, Kaarle Nordenstreng, Herbert I. Schiller, Dallas Smythe, Colin Sparks, Daya Thussu, and Jeremy Tunstall.