The news and media in Colombia are important modes of communication. Colombians love the printed word and newspapers of all types are available on almost every busy street corner. In total there are 24 papers published daily in Colombia. El Tiempo, founded in 1911 and El Espectador, founded in 1887 are the two main newspapers with national distribution. In Medellin, El Colombiano dominates the market. El Pais is the largest journal in the Cali/Valle del Cauca area and El Heraldo covers the Caribbean region. Popular magazines are Cambio, Semana, Cromos, Fuchsia, Jet Set and in the business category you will find Portafolio, Dinero and La Republica.
There are approximately 515 radio stations broadcasting in Colombia with 3 major networks, Caracol Radio, RCN Radio and Radiodifusora Nacional de Colombia which is operated by the state.
Television is a popular form of entertainment in Colombia and often the poorest of poor have a tv set. There are 5 major networks with a total of 60 stations. General programming is broadcast by Caracol TV and RCN TV. Señal TV is a cultural and educational broadcaster while Canal Institucional provides institutional programing. City TV is a private local channel in Bogota with roots to City TV in Canada. Many of areas of Colombia also have regional broadcasting. For example in Medellin and Antioquia you will encounter Teleantioquia or in Cali, Telepacifico.
A very important part of the television culture in Colombia is the telenovela or soap opera. A popular soap opera, like a World Cup football match can bring the country to a standstill ! The first successful soap to do this was ” Cafe, con aroma de mujer” or ”Coffee with the Scent of a Woman”.
Probably the most famous and most successful telenovela of all time is ”Yo soy Betty, la fea”. This show was written in Colombia and ran between 1999 and 2001. There have been many other versions of this show produced around the world with the most noticeable production by Salma Hayek in the United States from 2006 to 2010.
Internet usage is high in Colombia. Depending on the source, Colombia has either the 3rd or 4th largest number of internet users in Latin American with 25,000,000 consumers. Colombia is in the top 10 countries in the world for social media usage with approximately 492 minutes per month spent on Facebook. Nearly 50% of all users view their news online. In March 2012, the number seven site in the country was El Tiempo.
The incredible growth of the internet has generated the development of online commerce. According to Caracol Radio, in June 2011, travel sites had over 3 million hits. Approximately 5% of Colombians shop online and this is expected to increase to 20% in the near future.
As of 2011 mobile phone penetration had reached 100% and El Tiempo reported in 2011 that every one out of two cellphones was being replaced with a smart phone. Not only that in 2011, 43 % of the web traffic came from non-computer devices such as tablets. With the increased use of internet in Colombia, it comes as no surprise that in 2011 online ad spending went up 33%.
The growth of high tech in Colombia has been astounding. Even when a new Smart phone or Blackberry was beyond the reach of the average Colombian’s pocket book, students and workers earning very moderate salaries were seen sporting them, as much for their status, as for their use. Even more surprising in a country where privacy is still a relatively important factor, Facebook has had an incredible penetration.
More and more companies are moving to mobile phone apps and the marketplace in Colombia is young, savvy and ready to embrace technology.