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Media and democracy in Brazil

Matos, C. (2011). Media and democracy in Brazil. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, 8(1),


The Latin American media environment currently faces serious challenges which range from historical factors to regional political problems and gradual shifts in cultural attitudes. As Fox and Waisbord (2002, ix) have claimed, both local politics and media globalization have significantly shaped the development of the Latin American media in the 1990’s. Argentina for instance has seen a situation of limited competition and TV networks controlled by the state slowly give way to an internationalized market environment. In Brazil, as my last work (Matos, 2008) has shown, market expansionism from the 1990’s onwards occurred in parallel with the growth of political liberalization and with a widening of public debate in the mediated public sphere. In such a scenario, calls for the strengthening of the public media grounded on public interest purposes have became fever pitched.
A key question investigated here is how media democratization can assist in the deepening of the political democratization project in Brazil. In an increasing globalized world, it can be affirmed that the public media can stand as a space for the fortification of national culture, but not in opposition to globalization, being further a vehicle which can be capable of reinforcing both local and national identities and cultures in negotiation with the global sphere. This paper, taken from one of the chapters of the forthcoming book, Media and Politics in Latin America: globalization, democracy and identity (IB Tauris, 2012), attempts to give an overview of the development of media systems in Latin America in a comparative perspective, emphasizing the specific situation of Brazil and the relationship that has been established between public communications and the public interest. It focuses particularly on examining the ways in which private interests have shaped the evolution of commercial broadcasting in opposition to the lack of a tradition of media regulation. It thus examines current debates put forward by governments which strive to reverse the historical deficiency of public communication structures and their misuse in favor of personal and/or political interests.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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