Prime-time politics: News, parody, and fictional credibility in Chile

by Jennifer Ashley

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By Jennifer AshleyFull Article:

Chile's public television station, TVN, relies on a programming structure that places a telenovela before and after the national news hour. This programming model's popularity is due to what producers call its “umbrella effect,” meaning that the ratings of one program help to protect what comes before and after. In the months leading up to the 2009–10 presidential election, TVN blurred the boundaries between these two televisual genres by producing one telenovela that parodied the inner workings of a news station and another that enlisted a well-known journalist to serve as its narrator. Drawing on fieldwork with media producers and telenovela fans, I argue that the overlaps between these two genres make visible the relation between media, political, and economic infrastructures. Analysis of these programming flows in the context of the electoral campaign provides insight into the role of transitions as places of politics making.