Latin American media: under control of families, economic and political elites

Media Ownership Monitor (MOM) "Who controls the media in Latin America?" will be launched in December in Brazil by the Reporters Without Borders and Intervozes organizations

In Latin America, the media are under the control of the corporate sector and business families who are linked to economic and political elites and use their ability to influence public opinion as capital. This is what concludes the research "Who controls the media in Latin America?", which will be launched by Intervozes - Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Sao Paulo and Fortaleza, on December 3 and 5, with a round table with experts. The study analyzed media concentration in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.  

In Argentina, for example, the 52 mainstream media are in the hands of 22 companies.  In Colombia, the three media groups control 57 percent of the content that society can access on radio, TV, online, and print media. In Peru, unparalleled data: 68% of the estimated online news audience in the country is in the hands of a single group. While media power in Mexico goes hand in hand with politics, half of the public budget for advertising money is allocated to only 10 of the media groups analyzed in this study. 

Despite all the regional diversity in Brazil and the continental dimensions of its territory, the top four media groups concentrate an outrageous national audience on each segment analyzed (TV, radio, print and online), surpassing 70% in the case of open television, the most consumed means of communication in the country.

The Media Ownership Monitor (MOM), is a mapping methodology that generates a publicly accessible and continously updated database hat lists owners of all relevant mass media outlets. The aim is to shed light on the risks posed by concentration of ownership to media pluralism and diversity. MOM also qualitatively assesses market conditions and the regulatory environment.

"Media groups greatly influence the dynamics of power. At a time when Latin America is experiencing intense conflict and mobilization, it is important to revisit the role of groups that historically exercise the fundamental power of scheduling discussions, transmitting information to the population and overseeing the government. All with little or no room for the plurality and diversity of ideas and opinions", highlights Helena Martins, professor at the Federal University of Ceará and member of the Board of Directors of Intervozes.

To Emmanuel Colombié, RSF Latin America Office Director, “Economic pressures and concentration of ownership may limit journalism's ability to hold those in power accountable.  With our research, we want to provide a tool for all citizens to better understand the interests, power and challenges that define the environment in which the Latin American media operates”, he points out.

To discuss the impacts of media conglomerates on journalism and democracy in Latin America, the dialogue “Challenges to withstand concentration and promote plurality” will be held in the cities of Sao Paulo and Fortaleza with Emmanuel Colombié, Regional Director of the Reporters Without Borders office for Latin America; Gerardo Aranguren, of Tiempo Argentino, partner organization for the implementation of MOM Argentina; Luís Brasilinio, editor of Le Monde Diplomatique Brazil; as well as members of  Intervozes who conducted MOM Brazil will. On the occasion, a booklet with policy proposals for the promotion of plurality and diversity in the media will be presented. 

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Updated on 04.12.2019