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Media System in Latin America

Latin America Media System

Despite facing a variety of institutional and political challenges, as latin America media moved into the twenty-first century, they seemed poised to make considerable contributions to the wave of democratization breaking across the hemisphere (Tilson and Rockwell, 2004). Dubbed by some as a “Pink Tide”, the election of left-leaning leaders in some parts of the region(BBC, 2005) opened the door to a reemergence of centralized Latin America states seemingly bent on controlling communication and diminishing the role of alternative media voices (Lauria, 2006)

As Gorriti notes, this positioned journalists as the tip of the spear in the battle for democratization. With globalized news influencing the region, and as journalists began making inroads toward more free expression, these trends undercut the traditional role of the state in Latin America as the central font of information(Waisbord and Morris, 2001). Some countries like Colombia, Mexico, and elsewhere countries have had a deploy elements of their armed forces to guard investigative journalists or to keep news organizations operating without facing violent attacks.


Historical context

The Latin American model of commercial broadcasting superficially is quite similar to that developed in the United States. This model consists of privately-

Owned, commercially-financed radio and television stations with one or more

large companies controlling a significant market share. Early American

investments in Latin American radio and television stations facilitated the

adoption of this commercial broadcasting model, and the region’s media were

internationalised many decades before globalisation became a buzzword in

political and academic circles.

Paradoxically, the Latin American media were both unregulated and highly

controlled. The ruling elite demanded economic growth and political stability,

satisfied by a docile commercial broadcasting system under their political thumb

(Fox 1997). In some countries, alongside precocious commercialisation,

nationalism also shaped how the media developed. Factions within governments

and progressive social movements pushed for increased state control of domestic

radio and television in order to ensure domestic content and national, rather than

foreign, ownership. These nationalist measures were largely successful when

motivated by the need for increased political control of the media but largely

unsuccessful when motivated by considerations of public service or preserving

national culture (Waisbord 1995).

Early Public Service

Government censorship quickly became the norm in Latin American broadcasting.

The state imposed controls on the political content of the media through

censorship, licensing, and government paid advertising. State interference in the

media began early, for example in Brazil in the 1930s under Vargas, in Argentina

during the decada infame, and in the first years of radio in Peru.

In some countries, radio, and later television also were seen as ways to integrate

new populations into the culture or economy of the country. In 1924, for

example, the Mexican Government set up a radio station in the Ministry of

Education. Ten years later, President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940) donated aWhat


radio receiver to all agricultural and workers’ communities to enable them to

listen to the courses, book reviews and concerts transmitted by the government

radio station.

Some of these earlier ideas about public service broadcasting resurfaced in the late

1950s and early 1960s. Development communication focused on the use of

broadcasting to provide education, information and modern values to the

‘traditional masses’. UNESCO, the Alliance for Progress, and the Organization of

American States funded communication equipment and programmes to use the

mass media for health, education, rural development and family planning.

In 1966 Colombian President Carlos Lleras used foreign aid to set up an

educational television programme to complement regular classroom programmes.

In 1968 the Mexican government launched Telesecundaria, an open-circuit

educational television system for secondary schools. Efforts at educational and

public service broadcasting flourished as long as foreign financing and domestic

political support were forthcoming. When funds and support dried up, public

services languished in the backwaters of official bureaucracies.

The endorsement of free market economies by the dictatorships that swept Latin

America in the 1970s further spurred broadcasting’s commercial as opposed to its

public service growth. When authoritarian governments were able to forge a close

relationship with national broadcasting industries, strong media monopolies

developed. This was the case in Brazil and Mexico where domestic broadcasters

grew powerful under the protection of strong, authoritarian states. Brazil’s rulers

worked closely with private radio stations that they censored and, in part, directly

controlled, and later with commercial television, notably TV Globo, which they

helped create and had no need to control. The Brazilian media eventually proved

the stronger partner; outlasting the military and successfully rolling their loyalties

over to the civilian governments that followed (Sinclair 1999). The relationship

between government and the media in Mexico was the natural outgrowth of the

radio broadcasters’ early bond with the state and, in some cases, ownership by the

country’s political leaders.

Where the bond between broadcasters and the state was not possible, domestic

broadcasting industries remained politically weaker and generally more fragmented.

Peru, Argentina, and Chile have been paradigmatic cases of fragmented

broadcasting industries. In Peru major swings in policy between laissez-faire and

government intervention thwarted the consolidation of a strong domestic

broadcaster. The most radical of these swings occurred between 1968 and 1980under a nationalist military government that expropriated the media companies.

In 1980 a civilian administration returned broadcasting outlets to their previous

owners, hardened against government intervention and operating largely without


Fragmentation of media ownership in Argentina began when the military who

came to power in 1976 were unwilling to privatise the television stations that the

Peronists had expropriated in 1974. The military distrusted the private media and

preferred to spread the control of television and radio stations among the

branches of the Armed Forces. The Menem government finally privatised the

stations in 1989. The fragmentation of the Chilean broadcasting industry largely

resulted from the decision to place television channels under state- and church-run

universities rather than under the private sector. After General Pinochet’s brutal

take-over in 1973, the military kept the media under strict control and censorship,

while, at the same time allowing commercial growth.

In the early to mid-1980s the Latin American military dictatorships started

showing cracks, and the transition to democracy gained momentum. As civilian

regimes replaced military ones, the region’s media experienced significant

transformations at many levels – technological, legal, policy, content, ownership

and financial.



The political system


1.     For the past fifty years, Latin America has been overwhelmed

by the power of military dictatorships which deeply affected

society as a whole.

2.     Few Latin American countries escaped military rule.

3.     The power of the military dictatorships rested on the doctrine

of National Security, whereby the armed forces were awarded

the role of political guardians.

4.    Repression and censorship were the principal means for

maintaining power.

5.    Most of these regimes entered into strategic alliances with the

United States of America in their struggle against Communism.



Censorship and dictatorships



General features of the military period

1.     Strict censorship of mass communication media.

2.     Newspapers and radio were the major vehicles for the diffusion of


3.     Television arrived in South America during the 1950’s and, in

practically all countries in the continent, was introduced by the


4.     Television was an essential component of the manipulation of the

mass media by the military, but, paradoxically, it would also

become the passport to modernization;

5.     The establishment of Non Profit Organizations in Latin America by a

substantial number of European foundations was to facilitate the

access to political power by community organizations.


The Brazilian military and Federal Law 5.377


1.     Federal Law 5.377, published December 11, 1967, regulates the

professional practice of Public Relations in Brazil;

2.     The law defined the profession through a set of specific controls

that established rigid parameters and sanctions for the practice of

PR, which was not the case in other Latin American countries.

3.     Brazil was to become the first country in the world to adopt

specific legislation for the practice of Public Relations;

4.     In 1967, the School of Arts and Communication of the University of

São Paulo created the first four-year professional university-level

degree program in Public Relations;

5.     While Brazil instituted a university-level PR degree by Federal

Decree, neighboring countries created, at first, non-degree

granting university-level programs.



The economic system


1.     The modernization of South America in the 60’s and 70’s was

based on a model of economic growth that required the

transformation of both the State and society.

2.     The military promoted themselves as the alternative to social,

political, cultural and labor unrest that had emerged as a by-

product of the exploitation, discrimination and oppression of

the less able elements of society.

3.     In Chile, the presence of the military was associated with the

neo-liberal policies that would become the essential element

for modernizing the economy.





1.     Latin American societies reflect the policies and practices of

local political and economic systems.

2.     The general behavior of society defines national and

organizational culture.

3.     As a result of Spanish and Portuguese colonization Latin

American countries developed unique national identities that,

due to the effect of local culture, created specific management

models which are not always easily understood by foreigners.

Media And Violence

Every year journalists around the world mark May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day.  For the Overseas Press Club of America, however, it’s always World Press Freedom Day. How a nation treats its journalists is an excellent barometer of the health of its democracy.  In hopeful moments we imagine that the barometer’s long-term forecast is sunny.  But we live in the real world and know things can darken for our colleagues in remarkably short periods of time.

There’s no better example than Latin America, which entered the 21st Century looking as if it had finally shed its tradition of authoritarianism and civil upheaval.  Then in the early 2000s the Overseas Press Club’s press-freedom committee found itself regularly sounding the alarm on behalf of Mexican journalists.  That work turned out to be an early warning for what has happened ten years later, when Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a journalist.

Violence and drug-related gang warfare have made life for Mexican reporters more like working in a permanent war zone than reporting from one of the world’s established democracies.  Only last week the committee extended its ongoing conversation with Mexican President Felipe Calderon about the threats to our colleagues there.  So far in 2010 five Mexican journalists have been murdered.  Two others have disappeared (one of them possibly at the hands of Mexican police).  One of the most recent murder victims, Enrique Villicaña Palomares of La Voz de Michoacan, was found with his throat cut in Morelia, five days after he was reported kidnapped.  The Michoacán State Justice Department failed to take any action after being notified that threats had been made against Villicaña.

As the Overseas Press Club told President Calderon, if the reports of inaction are true then such indifference is inexcusable in a democratic society—especially since the threats against Villicaña were made just days after another Michoacán journalist, Ramon Angeles Zalpa of Cambio de Michoacán, went missing.  Angeles has not been heard from since.
“When journalists are killed for doing their jobs,” we told President Calderon, “the result is self-censorship by other journalists and the loss of information that is vital to any democracy.”

President Calderon can at least be counted as an ally of democratic institutions.  In Honduras, by contrast, it is now very dangerous to report news and opinion in opposition to the government of Porfirio Lobo Sosa, who was elected president in January after the previous government was dissolved at gunpoint last June.

The month of March was a catastrophic one for our Honduran colleagues, with a total of five reporters murdered that month alone.  Two more were murdered in April.  No arrests have been made in any of these cases.  All the murdered share in common a history of publishing and broadcasting that put them at odds with the president’s party or its friends.

The speedy unraveling of a previously freewheeling press in Honduras is shocking to witness.  According to our associates at ARTICLE 19, these attacks on Honduran journalists are of a piece with other assaults on human-rights and opposition activists since the middle of 2009.

In Venezuela, by contrast, President Hugo Chavez relies less on brutality and more on bureaucratic and political intimidation.  Since taking office in 1999 Chavez has taken one step after another to repress Venezuela’s once-thriving free press, notably when he took RCTV, Venezuela’s oldest TV station, off the air in 2007 and awarded its channels to a public TV station that could be counted on to speak for the government.  Since then he has kept up a steady stream of “administrative proceedings” against Globovision, Venezuela’s most important commercial broadcaster.  Last August the Chavez government abruptly shut down 34 radio stations without warning for failing to keep their paperwork up to date with the Ministry for Public Works and Housing.

One may grow hardened to the abuse—often horrifying—of journalists in Russia and China.  Threatening troublesome reporters is what they do there, and have done for a long time.  But Latin Americans have recent memories of good reporters doing work essential to the cultivation of democratic cultures, which is why it makes one angry to witness the rapid transition to open hostility in countries like Mexico, Honduras and Venezuela. The presidents of Ecuador and Bolivia are following Chavez’s example and treating the press as the enemy, with the same sort of bureacratic and legalistic attacks.

The work of any nation’s courageous journalists should be more than protected.  It should be celebrated as the cornerstone of civil society, and not just one day a year.

Media And State

Traditionally, much of the media of Latin America have supported elite or oligarchic structures and strong centralized states. In return, many media outlets have depended on the state for their existence. For example, in Nacaragua, many media outlets depended on state subsidies. Official handouts from the state and state advertising represented 70 percent of the media revenue. Media depending on the state is still relevant in Latin America although it is counted as a developed continent.

The wave of leftist reformers who have won electoral victories in the new century, the so called pink tide, campaigned vigorously against powerful oligarchic or conservative elites to gain office. In Bolivia, Ecuador and Uruguay, the relationship between the media and leftist reformers has been contentious and sometimes openly hostile.

to blunt informational force of private media the state will turn not only to subsidies and advertisements to buy influence but also to its own media. In Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela often state has adopted and aggressive media policy to employ state TV as a country balance to provide media. As history shows these are not new battles. The leftist populist of the new country are learning on a history of media repression that stretches back to colonial times. This is a repressive culture not just stitched into the fabric of the regions by the state, but also by conservative church and carried fourth into the 19th and 20th centuries by abusive authoritarian dictators.


Media Landscape

1.     Nowadays TV and radio have developed dominantly.

2.     Before TV into action radio aired a unique form drama called ‘Radionovelas’ after wards it was named as ‘telenovelas’

3.     1924 Mexico set up a radio station at ministry of Education

4.     Latin America home to one of the largest TV syndication of the world.

5.     Some of them are ‘Televisa’ of Mexico, ‘Venevision’ of Venezuala and ‘Globo’ of Brazil.

6.     Globo of Brazil is the top 20 TV operator which owns leading newspaper ‘o-Globo’ and country’s top cable form ‘Globo-Cabo’

7.     Globo recorded a profit of 2.2 B $ in 2010

8.     ‘Grupo Cisneros’ of Venezuala that owns ‘Venevision’ has 37000 employes and recorded 4 B $ profit and lies in top 15 position.

9.     Televisa of Mexico is the largest no. of program broadcaster in whole Latin America.

10.            It recorded about 1.2 b $ profit 2010

11.            similarly Clarin of Argentina who recorded a profit of 1.2 B $

12.            Telemendo of US the 2nd largest syndication of Spanish language in the world also started its programming in Mexico and Columbia

13.            Mexican influence in Latin America is Angel Gonzalez: He owns 20 TV affiliated networks: Also involved in TV programming, films and other TV faire.

14.            Cable TV also came out, but most people could not afford cable TV

15.            Now more than 1700 radio stations including AM and FM.(2010)

16.            World rated Magazines (157)

17.            World rated newspapers 424

18.            TV 174 and radio resources 177



1.     Argentina embraced the Internet as an early adapting nation

2.     They spurred internet in great access.

3.     60% of users, that is 6 million people, purchase goods after some research on the web.

4.     Chile has the highest Internet penetration 42.8%

5.     Argentina 39.7%

6.     Costa Rica 29.4%


Music industry

1.     Growth rate of music profit from 1981-1996: 12 million- 24 million- 40 million

2.     Declining stage of Music industry from 37-33.7 B $. loss

3.     According to IFPI piracy is great in Latin America. 50% average.

4.     Music sales got down to 30% in 2000

5.      Value of Music Industry now is about 1,243 M $

6.     Influence of Jay Bermen, Shakira, Puerto Rican, Jenniffer Lopez, Ricky Martin etc.




New Cinemas in Latin America

Michael Chanan

IN the late 1950s, a new cinema began to appear in Latin America, carving out spaces

for itself wherever it found the slightest chance, growing up even in the most inimical

circumstances, indeed thriving upon them, for this was a cinema largely devoted to

the denunciation of misery and the celebration of protest. In the space of ten or fifteen

years, a movement developed which not only reached from one end of the continent

to the other, but brought the cinema in Latin America to worldwide attention for the

first time. It began with discrete and diverse initiatives in different countries, ranging

from the Documentary Film School of Santa Fe in Argentina and the emergence of

Cinema Novo in Brazil, to the creation of a new Film Institute in Havana. The dates

and places are those of the recent history of Latin America. In Argentina and Brazil,

growth and rentrenchment has corresponded to the wax and wane of democracy.

Cuban cinema is synonymous with the Cuban Revolution, Chilean cinema is another

name for Popular Unity movement which elected Salvador Allende at the start of the

70s. Ten years later came Nicaragua and El Salvador and the reflorescence of the idea

of militant cinema which first developed in the 60s, the decade of Che Guevara.

Some of earliest initiatives occurred in outoftheway places, like Cuzco in

Peru, where a film club was set up in 1955 and Manuel Chambi and others started

making short documentaries on ethnographic and sociocultural themes the French

film historian Sadoul called them the Cuzco School. They were not unique. The 1950s

saw the spread of film societies throughout the continent, the proliferation of

filmmaking courses and contests, and the publication of magazines. It was in the

pages of titles like Hablemos de cine in Peru and Cine al dia in Venezuela that in the

60s and 70s the movement debated its values and sense of identity.

Many of these groups were linked to social movements, like the cultural club

Nuestro Tiempo run by the Young Communists in Havana in the early 50s, which

haboured several future Cuban directors. The first international meeting place for the

young filmmakers was a film festival in Montevideo set up in 1954 by the SODRE,

Uruguay’s national radio station and a progressive cultural promoter. Among the film

makers attending in 1958, when John Grierson was the guest of honour, were Chambi

from Peru, Nelson Pereira dos Santos from Brazil, and Fernando Birri from Santa Fe.

A film by Pereira dos Santos, Rio zona norte (1957), established a new paradigm of

fictional narrative, in the form of a neorealist tale of the favelas (shanty towns) of Rio

Janeiro; in the years that followed, Pereira dos Santos became the presiding spirit and

‘conscience’, as Glauber Rocha put it, of Brazil’s cinema novo. The film exhibited by

Birri and his students, Tire Die (‘Throw us a dime’), a collaborative social inquiry into

the shanty towns around the city of Santa Fe, later came to be celebrated as the

founding social documentary of the new film movement. Known simply as the New

Latin American Cinema (el nuevo cine latinoamericano), the term dates from a

meeting in 1967 of filmmakers from across the continent hosted by a film club in the Chilean seaside town of Viña del Mar, which had been running a festival of 8 and

16mm since 1963.


1.     Produces International quality films

2.     Internationally acclaimed films are ‘Nueve reinas'(2000), ‘El Abrazo partido'(2004), ‘El otro'(2007). ‘El Secreto de sus ojos’ is a 2010 foreign language Academy award film.

3.     World rated cinema halls 65


Despite these issues, the overall trends in the media are positive:

1. The media have been de-ideolized over the past decade. New media have strived for a non-ideological stance which lies in contrast to the struggle between right and left in the past.

2. Business news is of a high standard and this reflects a vibrant growth in economies.

3. Cable television has increased variety and pluralism in media content.

4. Supranational media organizations have supported and helped inter-regional news sharing and cooperation. Regional news agencies have emerged.

Latin America and its media systems give reason to be optimistic. As regional democracies stabilize and tolerate pluralism, journalistic standards have risen and freedom of expression is expanding. The media have dispelled conventional thinking that a military leader is the easiest solution for political deadlocks or conflicts by placing itself as the arbiter of fairness and justice. However, grass-roots problems like rich-poor divide, increasing crime, environmental mishaps and inadequate public services still exist and it has to be the media that must work to educate people, create consensus and awareness. The media industry is a vital and robust one that reflects changes in these societies. They must be socially responsible and regard themselves as instruments for creating public spirit so that they can help usher in national reconciliation over their violent pasts and build a unified regional society that is beneficial to both media and democracy.
















New Cinema in Latin America

Latin American Media a long view: Elizabeth Fox and Sivio Waisbord


About alokshishya

I am a student, learning....always learning....


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