U.S. – Broadcasting Board of Governors analysis of broadcasting in Latin America

Posted on December 3, 2012 • Filed under: Culture, Latin America News

Broadcasting Board of Governors
Latin America
Regional Dynamics
The nations of Latin America represent a critical target market for the BBG: In addition to being
the nearest neighbors of the United States, they also share with our country a common history of
European colonization and of independence movements rooted in the ideals of the
Enlightenment. Although stable and democratic political institutions, responsible economic
management and respect for human rights have become the norm in Latin America, there remain
troubling outliers. As Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo
Valenzuela noted in testimony to Congress last year, Latin America has seen a “persistent
erosion of democratic institutions and fundamental freedoms in several countries, particularly
freedom of the press,” specifically citing recent developments in Venezuela and Cuba, the
Western Hemisphere’s sole remaining Communist state.1 Meanwhile, Haiti, the Western
Hemisphere’s poorest nation, remains crippled by poverty and poor governance and in need of
serious rebuilding in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake. In these countries and elsewhere
in Latin America, BBG programming provides audiences with reliable, credible news and
BBG broadcasts target Cuba, the Andean region of Latin America, and Haiti and attract a weekly
total media audience of approximately 4 million across areas where research has been conducted.
This represents around 2 percent of BBG’s global audience. Audience reach is high for BBG
radio broadcasts in Haiti, with 50 percent of adults (or approximately 2.2 million people) tuning
in weekly.
The region’s media markets are very well developed; they are both saturated and somewhat
resistant to outside influence. The political environment and strict media laws are obstacles for
local placement, especially on television, in many areas. With the exception of Haiti, television
is dominant with cable use increasing rapidly. Mobile phone use is virtually universal in the
Andean region, and with smart phones like the Blackberry becoming more accessible, they will
likely become a major source of news within the next few years. Similarly, Internet-based
digital platforms are growing in usage and influence, particularly among young urban
populations—including those of strategic interest to VOA in the Andean region.
Media markets in Latin America and the Caribbean are evolving rapidly, marked by widening
use of digital technologies, greater use of FM radio over traditional shortwave and medium wave
bands, and continued growth in television viewership. Through VOA and the Office of Cuba
Broadcasting (OCB), the BBG reaches audiences in Latin America on three media platforms:
television, radio, and the Internet. VOA is aggressively developing mobile capabilities to reach
the rapidly expanding youthful audience—especially in the Andean countries—and is
successfully engaging Internet users through its website, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. A
major item on VOA’s strategic agenda for Latin America is to focus on development of new
1 Arturo Valenzuela (Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs). Statement to the House, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. U.S. Policy Toward the Americas in
2010 and Beyond, Hearing, 10 Mar. 2010. Available at: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/111/val031010.pdf;
Accessed: 9 Feb. 2011.
media, which are expected to supplant traditional VOA radio and television programming as the
most effective methods to reach mass audiences in the years ahead. Read Paper – page 76 of pdf

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