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SALAZAR Harry L. Simón

Television, Democracy, and the Mediatization of Chilean Politics

Rowman & Littlefield, 2018, 190 p., $90.

After seventeen years as dictator of Chile, in 1990 Augusto Pinochet ceremoniously handed the presidential sash to the leader of his legal opposition to formalize the peaceful transition to civilian rule in that country. Among the many idiosyncrasies of this extraordinary transfer of political power, the most memorable is the month-long, nationally televised campaign of uncensored political advertising known as the Franja de Propaganda Electoral—the “Official Space for Electoral Propaganda.” Produced by Pinochet’s supporters and the legal opposition, the 1988 Franja campaign set out to encourage voters to participate in a plebiscite that would define the democratic future of Chile. Harry L. Simón Salazar presents a valuable historical account, new empirical research, and a unique theoretical analysis of the televised Franja campaign to examine how it helped the Chilean people reconcile the irreconcilable and stabilize a contradictory relationship between what was politically implausible and what was represented as true and viable in a space of mediated political culture. This contribution to the field of political communication research will be useful for scholars, students, and a general public interested in Latin American history and democracy, as well as researchers of media, communication theory, and cultural studies. Television, Democracy, and the Mediatization of Chilean Politics also helps inform a more critical understanding of contemporary hyper-mediated political movements such as the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and the particularly germane phenomenon of Trumpism.

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