Claudia Herrera Pahl, Spanish service: "DW is in demand in Latin America. It serves not only as a provider of reliable information but also as a catalyst towards greater independence and plurality within local media."
In February 2018, DW opened a correspondents’ office in the Colombian capital of Bogotá. Both the location and the timing were chosen with deliberate intent. Through its presence in Colombia, DW is even closer to both the action and the people and can report more authentically about the breathtaking changes currently underway in the region.
As a culture, Colombia is moving along a path towards peace and reconciliation. Like no other country in Latin America, it illustrates the importance of these values. The peace process is still young and fragile and the nation acts as an example of the dangers that can arise in a society where coexistence is not based on values such as mutual respect, tolerance and plurality.
It is within this context that DW, as a partner and a supporter of democratic values, has positioned itself and its Spanish-language offerings. At the same time, DW sees itself as bridging a gap as it offers topics and opinions rarely found in Latin American media. The understanding of media as a service provider in the public interest is rather underdeveloped within Latin American media.
The media sector in Latin America has developed in a largely uncontrolled way, very much in contrast to media development in Europe. As a result, the situation there today could be said to be characterized by a lack of non-governmental public media. This absence poses a challenge in regards to the media’s promotion of democratization processes in society.
Although the nations on this continent are different in many ways, there are similarities within the media landscape. Latin America has the highest concentration in the world of private commercial broadcasters, most of which are in the hands of a few corporations. This media monopoly has led to the centralization of the production of information and entertainment programming.
The majority of these powerful media empires in Latin American countries have risen to prominence in the second half of the 20th century. They lack the understanding about their role in society and their responsibility to citizens. The origin of these monopolies is characterized by the objectives of the political and economic elite in each country and reduces the average citizen to objects of their interests which are either commercial or political.
Although in the recent past, governments in some countries have recognized the need for a correction in the media wilderness and have identified the concentration of media as a societal problem, the process of monopolization continues unabated.
The digital revolution and the formation of new media have not changed the central features of this commercial system which is based solely on advertising. Interregional providers are anxious to be in a position of dominance in various markets and, as such, are growing into multinational media conglomerates.
The accelerated monopolization process in the media sector is accompanied by an increasing uniformity in their offerings. This represents a danger to plurality of opinion in Latin America that should not be underestimated and hinders the democratization processes towards an open and pluralistic society.
Considering this background, Deutsche Welle’s offerings for Latin American gain an special importance. Embedded in the long tradition of close cultural, scientific and political relations between Germany and the states of Latin America, DW’s offerings fill a crucial gap in the continent’s media landscape. DW promotes the conviction that a well-informed public as the basis of a functioning democracy is indispensable. In doing so, it has met with increased acceptance within the Latin American public.