Public Television in Latin America: Changing to the Digital Age

(Florence Toussaint, published 2017)

This research article tracks the history of public television in Latin America and its journey towards digital transition.

This research briefly explores the history of public television in Latin America, a history that is strongly linked to the government and the political history of each state. Overall, the author highlights that only one public media institution across

the region has full editorial independence, financial autonomy or financial support from their viewers. However, television (both public and private) has always held a crucial role in Latin American society as a mediator between the consumption and production of culture.

The birth and growth of public media in Latin America can be traced from the 1950s, but each country evolved differently with regards to growth and the model they chose to transition to the digital world. Countries adopted different digital models, some choosing from the American ATSC (Advanced Television System Commitee), others chose the Japanese-Brazilian ISDB-Tb (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial), the European DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial) and the Chinese model.

Some of the data analysed or displayed in the article are not official, but it’s nonetheless useful in highlighting trends and varying situations across the region.

Public television in Latin America continues to be characterised by pluralistic and fragmented media systems and is influenced by just as diverse an array of technologies. Public television will have to transition to the digital world to change and survive especially as quality becomes compromised and viewers head towards new, private options to be entertained, informed and educated.

The complete digitisation of the whole region could take up to 2021, with a few countries already halfway in the process of digitisation.

The full paper and more information can be found below.


(Toussaint Alcaráz, 2017)

Reference: Toussaint Alcaráz, F. (2017) ‘Televisión pública en América Latina: su transición a la era digital’, Revista mexicana de ciencias políticas y sociales, ISSN-e 0185-1918, Vol. 62, No. 229, 2017, págs. 223-242, 62(229), pp. 223–242.

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