Domestication and audience interests in foreign news: A cross-national analysis

Francis L.F. Lee
School of Journalism and Communication,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong


Research on foreign news has repeatedly shown that the media have the tendency to domesticate or localize foreign news so as to make the news content more understandable, interesting, and/or relevant to the audience. As such, domestication is often presumed to be a tendency shared by news media around the world. However, domestication may also be treated as a “variable.” Foreign news in different countries, offered by different media organizations, and on different topics may be domesticated to different extents. And to the extent that degree of domestication varies across countries, it would be possible to examine whether the degree of domestication of foreign news is significantly related to audience interests in and perceptions of foreign news at the country level. This article draws upon a 17-country comparative study on television foreign news and their audiences to tackle the above research issues. It shows that degree of domestication of foreign news does vary very substantially across countries. Hard news and soft news tend to be domesticated to different degrees and in different ways. Moreover, both country-level and individual-level analysis of survey data show that audience interests in foreign news are weaker in countries where foreign news is domesticated to larger extents.