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Comunicar Journal 36: Television and its New Expressions (Vol. 18 - 2011)

The intervention of TV in the Chilean earthquake


María-Dolores Souza-Mayerholz

Víctor Martínez-Ravanal


This paper has two purposes: one conceptual and the other practical. On a conceptual level, it outlines a model for understanding how TV operates as a social mediator in the event of natural disasters, and at the practical level, it recommends measures that can be used to optimize the role of TV and its ideal social function in contexts of crisis. This model views TV intervention as both «self-centered», that is, driven by its reproduction as a media consumption company; and «socially-centered», designed to respond swiftly and accurately to the social requirements that emerge in crisis situations. The suggested model is to be contrasted with the results of a research study conducted by the National TV Council of Chile that explored the role of TV broadcasting after the earthquake in February 2010. According to the results of the study, audiences value the amount of information broadcasted by TV networks but perceive that the predominance of its «self-centered» function creates a problem: the logic of the 'spectacle' is prevalent and exacerbates the audience’s emotions. The primary purpose of this paper is to develop a strategy to recommend how TV and its associate services can respond to a crisis situation while respecting the tragedy of natural disasters.


Intervention, television, earthquake, audience, autocentric, sociocentric