International news, and the technological infrastructures required to collect, distribute, and publish it, have long been battlegrounds of imperial ambition and anticolonial contestation. In the early 1960s, press professionals, engineers, and telecom officials from the global South elaborated a wide-ranging structural critique of the status quo, arguing that developing mass media required decolonizing international networks and global governance practices that perpetuated media inequality. But over the course of the decade, UNESCO began to invite research and expertise from American social scientists and engineers, who came to define UNESCO’s approach to satellite-based media development. By redefining the scope of media development to an instrumentalist vision of Westernization, such research eclipsed a broad, structural vision of reform, casting southern experts’ more radical designs into shadow. By recovering this history, the article tells a new story of the ideologies and governance practices that helped sustain global news inequality in the satellite age.

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