The media in Chile

Written press with history

The oldest newspaper with uninterrupted circulation in Spanish is from Chile. The country's written press certainly has a story to tell.

Friday, July 31, 2009  

The first newspaper in the country was published between February 1812 and April 1813. It was called La Aurora de Chile, and was directed by a priest, Fray Camilo Henríquez. The newspaper was part of the first signs of independent life in Chile. Fifteen years later, and after the country's independence from Spain, El Mercurio de Valparaiso went into circulation. The first edition appeared 12 September 1827 and publication was never interrupted. It is the oldest newspaper with continuous circulation in Spanish.

Of course, Chile's written press scenario has gone through major changes since then. A high degree of segmentation, diversity and attractive Internet platforms are the hallmarks of today's media industry in Chile. Due to the fact that it circulates free of charge using digital paper, it was largely the Internet that helped empower the local industry.

The main morning papers in Chile are currently El Mercurio de Santiago, founded in 1900 by the same Edwards family that started the Valparaiso newspaper, and La Tercera, a Berliner format newspaper that first appeared in 1950. Both are the main media for their respective conglomerates –El Mercurio SAP and Consorcio Periodístico de Chile (Copesa)- do not only compete for readers, but also for starting off the week's news by means of their elaborate Sunday editions. Both groups have also expanded operations to the radio, the magazine market and regional newspapers.

Including the Valparaiso newspaper, the El Mercurio conglomerate, which belongs to Grupo de Diarios América (GDA), brings together over 20 regional publications, from La Estrella de Arica, in Chile's north, to La Estrella de Chiloé, down south.

Copesa is responsible for La Tercera’s newspaper circulation and, together with thirteen other media conglomerates, makes up Periódicos Asociados Latinoamericanos (PAL). La Tercera is a newspaper with nationwide circulation that specializes in politics and business, publishing El Diario de Concepcion in conjunction with Universidad de Concepcion since May 2008.

El Mercurio and La Tercera also circulate newspapers targeted to ordinary people, such as Las Últimas Noticias and La Cuarta, respectively. These newspapers specialize in entertainment, running headlines related to the local jet set and sports.

There is also a newspaper called La Nación, with a 69% stake owned by the Chilean State. This newspaper circulates every day except for Saturday and features a special Sunday edition with reports on local and international current events. Empresa Periodística La Nación S.A. also publishes Diario Oficial (the Official Gazette), which publishes Chilean laws and legal standards.

A wide range of formats

In 2000, the Swedish company Metro International saw Chile as the first possibility of extending its free circulation newspaper model into Latin America. Publimetro is currently circulating in 11 cities throughout the country. The newspaper is very popular with subway passengers in Santiago. 

A similar format was adopted by La Hora, belonging to the same publishing house as La Tercera and La Cuarta, and which circulated as an evening newspaper between 1997 and 2000. The leading evening newspaper is La Segunda, founded in 1931. This newspaper can be purchased after 2 PM in the streets of downtown Santiago.

Specialized press is represented in Santiago by Estrategia newspaper, founded in 1978, and Diario Financiero, which started circulation in 1988. Both specialize in business, finance and macroeconomics, and are published from Monday to Friday.

Some news agencies have offices or correspondents in Chile, as AFP (France), DPA (Germany), Ansa (Italy), Bloomberg (United States), Dow Jones Newswires (United States), EFE (Spain), Prensa Latina (Cuba), Orbe (Chile), Notimex (Mexico), Reuters (United Kingdom), IPS (Italy), AP (United States), Europa Press (Chile) y UPI (United States).