Television in Latin America Is “Everywhere”: Not Dead, Not Dying, but Converging and Thriving
Centro Universitario de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades, Universidade de Guadalajara, Mexico
Department of Media and Cultural Studies, University of California, USA, School of Arts, Murdoch University, Australia, Escuela de Comunicación Social, Universidad del Norte, Colombia, School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University, UK, and Institute of Media and Creative Industries, Loughborough University, UK
Abstract: In Latin America, the now-venerable expression “the end of television” itself looks old, tired, and flawed: markets, cultures, politics, and policies alike find television more alive than ever, albeit in its usual state of technological, institutional, and textual flux. Advertising investment in TV continues to increase, governments still use television to promote generalized propaganda as well as their daily agendas, football on screen remains wildly popular, and fiction programs, most notably telenovelas, dominate prime time and draw large audiences aged between 25 and 60. While younger viewers watch television on a wider variety of screens and technologies, and do so at differing times, the discourse of TV remains an important referent in their audiovisual experiences. In addition, across age groups, divides persist between a minority with routine high-quality access to the digital world of technology and information and a majority without alternatives to the traditional audiovisual sphere, for whom cell phones, for instance, are at most devices for communicating with friends and family members. We cannot predict the future of TV in Latin America—but we can say with confidence that the claims for its demise are overstated. Television remains the principal cultural game in town.