Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Analysis of Hugo Benavides's Latin American Telenovelas: The Political Power of Melodramatic Resignification - Taking a Deeper Look Into Telenovela Monopolies

The first reading for this course was Hugo Benavides's section on Latin American Telenovelas: The Political Power of Melodramatic Resignification. The work dealt with how telenovelas became popular in various countries including the United States through aspects such as globalization and how telenovelas can connect to a viewer. A quote from the work that heavily interested me was, "It is this powerful process of cultural commodification and reconfiguration that has made even the original national groups lose their economic monopoly on telenovela production". Before attending the course, I had assumed that many countries in South America and Latin America had produced telenovelas. Instead, I learned that countries such as Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela had large monopolies which weakened with competitors from Brazil, Peru, Colombia, etc. That was a very eye-opening concept of which I committed further research in the topic of telenovela monopolies and how it has affected monopolies and it's loosening due to globalization.

One of the countries that has a very strong hold on telenovela production is Mexico which has had recent political troubles in the past 10 years over its media structure. Mexican media is mainly dominated by the oligopoly Televisa which is the largest multimedia company in the Spanish speaking world. Televisa is known for producing recent telenovelas such as A que no me dejas and La vecina which are broadcasted worldwide through networks in the U.S. such as Univsion (Which Televisa owns a 5% stake in) or Telemundo along with various other channels across the world. Televisa does have a competitor in Mexico for telenovela production known as TV Azteca which has made some progress in chipping away at the monopoly of Televisa in the country but is still overshadowed by the strength of Televisa. However, the 2012 Mexican Presidential election has led to calls by protesters to break up the oligopoly of Televisa in Mexico. Televisa was heavily accused of supporting candidate Enrique Nieto throughout the election in many ways including to not show the first national debate between candidates in order to preserve Nieto's lead. If Televisa's control over the media in Mexico can be decreased, it will also lead to many other countries to have a chance at better distributing their own telenovelas without the monopolistic power of Televisa around the world.

An aspect that has greatly loosened the monopolistic control of telenovela production by certain countries is the rise of globalization. Globalization can encompass many aspects but a simplistic definition is the process of integrating communications, economics, and cultures around the world. Telenovelas has played a major role in globalization by spreading around the world in various continents which has led viewers to experience a new type of genre never seen before along with many of its cultural aspects depending on the country of origin. This has allowed countries such as Peru and Colombia to spread its telenovelas while weakening the strongholds of countries such as Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela as described by Benavides. One of the machinery or tools of globalization that has allowed for the growth of telenovelas in many nations is the internet which in turn allowed viewers instant access to vast amounts of telenovela programs of his or her liking on websites such as YouTube and Netflix. This further weakens the telenovela monopoly by allowing viewers to choose any type of telenovela without being forced to watched telenovelas from certain countries on televisions. Overall, globalization has been a major force in weakening the monopolistic forces of telenovela production although Mexico, Venezuela, and Argentina still are major leaders.


1. Benevides Reading

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