Latin America Essay

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VI.5 Latin American Media: A Long View of Politics and Markets Elizabeth Fox and Silvio Waisbord Introduction The Latin American model of commercial broadcasting superficially is quite similar to that developed in the United States. This model consists of privatelyowned, 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

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