The Mass Media
Beginning in the early 1960s, the Dominican Republic
experienced a communications revolution. The spread of
television, and newspapers awakened the previously
countryside, stimulated rapid urbanization, and led to the
political mobilization of millions of people who had never
participated in politics before. In addition, since
death in 1961, the Dominican media had been among the
all those in Latin America.
There were 123 radio stations--115 commercial and 8
government-sponsored--operating in the country in 1989. Of
thirty-four stations operated in the capital city alone,
that number broadcasted from the second city, Santiago.
other secondary cities had several radio stations. All
were government-licensed. The Dominican Republic's large
of stations ensured that every part of the island was
to radio broadcasting.
The advent of cheap transistor radios in the early
ushered in the communications revolution. Even poor
eking out a subsistence living, could afford such a radio.
Transistor radios brought in the political news from the
city and thus helped to integrate rural elements into the
national political life for the first time. Just as
they also exposed Dominicans to the culture, the behavior,
the music of the outside world.
There were eighteen television channels, operated by
companies in 1989; two channels were government-owned, and
sixteen were private. All were government-licensed.
Dominicans could not afford a set of their own, those who
own one often watched at neighbors' houses or in public
such as bars or shops. Thanks to relay stations,
broadcasts originating in Santo Domingo could be
The main newspapers were El Caribe and Listín
Diario. Both were dailies, published in the capital
both had circulations over 30,000. El Caribe was
and nationalistic; it was, for a long time, the main
the country. Listín Diario, founded in 1889 and
intermittently thereafter, was most recently revived in
was more reformist and more critical of the government. It
established a reputation as a crusading paper and soon
El Caribe in circulation.
Other major Santo Domingo newspapers were El
El Nacional, and Última Hora. El
conservative, El Nacional was more crusading and
nationalistic, and Última Hora had been launched
Listín Diario as an afternoon newspaper to
Nacional. In Santiago there were two main newspapers:
Información, a conservative afternoon paper, and El
Sol, a moderate morning paper. Other cities had
papers, focused mainly on local news. The big circulation
all received the major wire services--Associated Press
United Press International (UPI), Reuters, and others. As
result, their international coverage was often quite
The largest weekly newsmagazine in the country was
which was owned by El Nacional.
Each main political party published its own small
and aired its own radio program. The major trade unions,
professional associations, and interest groups also
their own newspapers, although they often published
and some maintained public relations offices. The armed
operated its own radio station, and the Roman Catholic
owned and operated several radio stations and small
The Voice of America was widely listened to; Radio Havana
Radio Moscow also beamed broadcasts that could be heard
throughout the country.
Although the coverage of news stories was not always
professional, and although there had been attempts by
and the military over the years to intimidate, or even to
down, some papers and stations, by and large the Dominican
had been remarkably free, independent, and diverse since
They performed an important educational function in the
and they exerted an important influence in mobilizing the
politically. In fact, the mass media had become one of the
important bulwarks of Dominican democracy.
Data as of December 1989