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Cuba: Mass Media
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Mass Media

MASS MEDIA


In the 1990s, as in decades past, the state owned and operated all mass media, except for publications of the Roman Catholic Church. Because of the high cost of importing newsprint, in the early 1990s the government sharply cut back on the publication of newspapers and magazines. Many journals and magazines were shut down; the circulation of newspapers was cut back.

The principal daily newspaper is Granma, official organ of the PCC. Granma reads like a collection of press releases. It often publishes the full texts of official speeches and is generally devoid of editorial or substantive variety. In the late 1990s, it resumed occasional publication of abbreviated "letters to the editor" along with responses to them, thereby providing a glimpse of how official Cuba addresses popular questions.

Juventud Rebelde is the official organ of the U JC (Communist Youth Union). In the 1990s, it changed from a daily to a weekly. It is likely to feature opinion pieces that provide a slightly wider range of political and social commentary. Bohemia is a newsmagazine of long standing that at times presents investigative reporting of problems that government leaders wish to bring to light.

By the end of the 1950s, Cuba had an impressive nationwide network of television broadcast companies and television sets. Fidel Castro employed television extensively in 1959 and thereafter to communicate his vision and his policies to the Cuban people. The Cuban Revolution was the first revolution whose leaders made extensive use of television. In the 1990s, however, the costs of production for television led the government to reduce the number of channels and of hours of transmission. Nonetheless, television remains the principal source of communication for entertainment and news.

In the 1990s, however, radio, a lower-cost alternative to print or television media, became the more dynamic mass medium. Moreover, the Cuban government's response to the United States-sponsored Radio Marti Program led to wider freedom of programming for radio. Consequently, Cuban radio engages in investigative reporting of various misdeeds, ranging from stores that do not open when they should or that sell shoddy merchandise, to incidents of crime and corruption. Live talk shows urge listeners to call in with their questions and complaints. Some radio programs broadcast internationally popular music, instead of the establishment revolutionary or "solidarity" music favored by official Cuba. In 1993, for example, Radio Taino was revamped to broadcast with the characteristics of commercial style radio. It featured contemporary Cuban and international Latin dance music, and it carried advertising from foreign firms operating in Cuba.

In the 1990s, the Roman Catholic Church was allowed to accept donations to import materials and equipment to publish the texts necessary for the liturgy and to publish magazines of substantial circulation. As already mentioned, several archdioceses publish magazines and other limited-circulation publications. The most important one, Palabra Nueva, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Havana, features articles on religious themes, but it has also published regularly on economics and social issues, at times diverging significantly and critically from government policies.




Last Updated: April 2001


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Cuba was first published in 2001. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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