Latin American media policies are shaped by two historical facts. First, Latin American political systems started to open up in the late 1980s. Liberal democratic politics are thus a comparatively recent development (Smith, 2005). In the majority of countries, media systems had been controlled by corporate media groups with close ties to authoritarian regimes and dictatorships (Fox, 1989; Mastrini & Becerra, 2005). Most of the Communication Acts in the region were set in this context. Consequently, there were no national trajectories of public service broadcasting development. To illustrate the panorama of Latin American media policy, I propose the following international coordinates of observation (Gómez, 2012). At one pole, some countries accord a central role to market logic, whereby light handed regulation favors powerful economic agents, and public authorities hold a referee status. This policy framework has been implemented since the late 80s (Schiller, 1990) and forms part of a larger process called marketization (Murdock & Wasko, 2007). At the opposite pole are normative public policies which seek to reform national communication systems against the following principles: a) constitutionally entrenched rights of communication; b) legal support for the growth of third sector media (community and indigenous media, non-profit associations, etc.). Such support includes spectrum allowances and specific licensing arrangements; c) de-concentration of media ownership. Together these tendencies constitute a de-commodification of communication policies. In other words, the hegemony of the market logic over the media system is challenged by social and community actors. Of course, the different national processes of media reform in Latin America may incorporate a mixture of elements from the two poles. Identifying these poles of development help provide answers to the following questions: How should the freedom of expression be guaranteed? What or whom is restricting the freedom of expression?


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