American University
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International relations and national policies of Latin American broadcasting

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posted on 2023-08-04, 15:17 authored by Elizabeth Russell Fox

The mass media are one of the most striking developments of modern Latin America. The spread of television and radio from experimental hobbies of elites to the mass coverage of today rivals the magnitude and speed of phenomena of urban growth and industrialization. Within a generation, radio and television were ubiquitous, revolutionizing the way people got information and news, spent their leisure time, and consumed. These changes did not go unnoticed by those sectors most affected: the state, political parties, commerce, and the media industries themselves. How the different sectors of society dealt with the distribution of broadcasting's benefits and obligations is the subject of national policy. International relations also played a role in the evolution of Latin American broadcasting, notably the U.S. commercial broadcasting industry, foreign governments, and trans-national corporations, advertising and selling their products worldwide. This study analyzes the distinct patterns of conflict and accommodation that accompanied the introduction and growth of radio and television in eight Latin American countries. As a form of comparative-historical analysis, it examines the relationships and different spheres of influence of international relations and national policies of broadcasting in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. It shows patterns and accents contrasts in the events resulting in the monopolistic and politically autonomous broadcasting industries that formed or are forming in each country. By looking at more than one country and contrasting similar periods and conflicts over time, the study builds a framework for understanding patterns of domestic media policies and assessing the strong but not determinant force of the images and influences of U.S. commercial broadcasting. Latin American broadcasting as it stands today is not an atavist product of poverty, underdevelopment, and tyranny, nor is it an exclusive product of U.S. imperialism. Foreign influence was exerted strategically, randomly, and pervasively over the course of many decades. Yet, more than the product of their foreign relations, Latin American broadcasting industries are the product of a complex interplay of strong and weak governments, authoritarianism and populism, domestic and foreign markets, and largely excluded social forces.







Ph.D. American University 1993.


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