Is the Latin America media world ready to be connected with the rest of the world?


Latin America’s media market as a prosperous chance to realize profit.

Latin America is a very interesting and special area of the world, especially when it comes to media. On the whole around 590 Million people live in this continent and are potential media consumers for different channels of media.

The similarities in culture and language allow for large media groups to dominate the sector and spread out over a grand geographical area. (Wang, Anura, Servaes, 28) We can therefore speak of the following 2 trends: (1) the sector’s groups intention to intensify the economies of scale as well as horizontal and vertical concentration and (2) consolidation of the sector’s integration into a global system. (Mastrini, Beccerra, 7) Generally speaking we have to take the some conditions of the media market in Latin America into consideration. Advertisement, as the main source of income, plays an important factor in the region and will further expand. According to the Global Media Report 2013 Latin America visited the highest growth as a region in digital advertising spending, registering a 13.3% increase in 2012. (Mc Kinsey&Company, 4)

The Report further predicts the majority of the global advertising growth (63%) over the next five years to take place in Latin America, Asia Pacific and Central and Eastern Europe. Latin America will face a 10.4% projected compound annual spending increase in media, mostly generated through broadband and in-home video. (McKinsey&Company, 7)

As we can see Latin America is a very prosperous market for media companies. Over the last years it over went a shift from family production companies to large conglomerates. Nowadays the Latin American market is dominated by the 4 media groups: (1) Televisa, (2) Cisnero, (3) Globo and (4) Clarín (Mastrini, Beccerra, 2) However according to Sinclair, especially US based media companies sense their chance to expand to the market. As the four mentioned major groups provide mainly mainstream content, the “newcomers” to the market try to fill up niche markets and provide the continent with alternative radio channels or television programs. 300 million Spanish speaking potential customers depicture a great chance to be exploited. One of the companies using it is the US base CBS Telenoticias news channel taking advantage of the restricted amount of languages spoken in Latin America. (Wang, Anura, Servaes, 29)

Having laid out some important facts on the development and factual background of the media market in Latin America and hence having shown the immense media consumption potential in this area, I want to express my concerns that the region is not ready for such a development, hereby focussing on Brazil.

In their essay “Latin America – Along views of Politics and Markets” the authors Waisboard and Fox analyze the political influence and media ownership throughout the last century in media. They come to the conclusion that Latin America media is both unregulated and yet highly under control. Thereby they refer to the severe political control of content and imposed controls through censorship, licensing and advertisement paid by the government. Consequently to the increase in state control in domestic television and radio to support local content and the fact of the political motivation behind it, Latin America faced the following consequence: “These nationalist measures were highly successful when motivated by the need for increased political control of the media, but largely unsuccessful when motivated by considerations of the public service or preserving national culture” (Fox, Waisboard, 1)

This statement shows that media is highly controlled by politics and hence can probably be seen as a propaganda tool. However, the influence of globalization will, in my opinion, make it harder to promote solely political ideas by the government. The opening towards more international offers of media will bring some changes about and I think that the allowance for 30% of foreign media companies on the market is a welcoming development in order to encourage more equality among the population, as due to varying accessability to media, there so far is inequality.

Nevertheless, Latin America still has to work on the regualtion of media. For example Brazil has laws enforced that are a legal provision to get access to information held by the state. Also Brazil has no legal requirements for individuals to practice as a journalist, which I find highly critical. If there is no education for journalists, neither an ethical one or a guideline on how to deal with sources, they might be a lot more easily influenced and manipulated by the government. Furthermore Brazil has no entity monitoring the content broadcasted. Besides the Ministry of Communication,responsible for broadcating and ANATEL, responsible for radio, free-air television, the observation and control of content is minimum. This might lead to a decrease in the quality of the content and might also produce conflicts with international ethical guidelines. (UIS, 12f)

Showing the non-existence of utilitarian guidelines and laws in Latin America (shown by reference to Brazil) I am highly concerned about the developent into a globalized market and an expansion of broadcasting in this area, as the non-existance of legal guidelines and the tight control concerning solely political control will give the opportunity to the media companies to act preferably in their interest without paying attention to the quality provided for the end-consumer.

Written By: Viktoria Arnold 


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