Broadcasting Modernity: Cuban Commercial Television, 1950-1960
Yeidy M. Rivero is Associate Professor of Screen Arts and Cultures at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Tuning Out Blackness: Race and Nation in the History of Puerto Rican Television, also published by Duke University Press.
Spectacles of Progress: Technology, Expansion, and the Law
This chapter examines how narratives about Cuban television’s technology, business, and production successes were used to highlight a notion of progress linked to a U.S. conceptualization of modernity. Nonetheless, while the stories about the island’s television accomplishments positioned Cuba as closely following the steps of the U.S., Fulgencio Batista’s March 10, 1952 coup unsettled Cuban claims to a U.S.-inspired modernity. The destitution of a democratic government, the uneven processes of geographic socio-economic modernization, and the decline in economic growth initiated after 1954 began to reveal the artifice behind Cuba’s and television’s promotion of modernity. Audiences and non-audiences became important players in dismantling the narratives of progress put forward by media owners, some television critics, and the government. This chapter also analyzes the television law of 1953, legislation that drastically altered the conceptualization of Cuba’s broadcasting system, particularly regarding television programming, media creators, and audiences.