Australia’s language media in Australia in the 21st

Australia’s Latin American and Spanish
communities are part of a global network of Spanish-speakers. In 2016, Spanish was ranked as just the ninth most spoken language
in Australia with over 140,000 speakers (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016). This current
Spanish language media market in Australia consists of 140,818 Australian residents, representing 0.6 percent of the Australian population, who declared in the 2016
Census that they were born in Spain, or Latin America, or identified as having
Hispanic/Latin American ancestry (ibid). For Sinclair (2014), the high number of Spanish-speakers in Australia reveals that the need for
the production of Spanish language media exists despite the market being
divided by national identity or political ideologies.

When discussing the ‘pluricentric’ character of Spanish language media
in Australia in the 21st century, interview respondents mentioned
advantages and drawbacks. Interview respondents discussed how Australia’s
Spanish-speakers form a large enough
critical mass to merit the production of Spanish language newspapers, in addition to community and
international radio, and television news broadcasts. On this subject, the
following respondents commented, “An advantage is that we as
ethnic media producers can cater to people from 21 Spanish-speaking countries. Many of these
countries are those with the highest number of speakers such as Colombia, Peru, Chile, El Salvador, Spain,
Argentina, and Uruguay” (Interview respondent, Silvia*, journalist – P6-I).

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We have all the Spanish newspapers to
provide news and information from Australia and overseas…. Moreover, we have
the SBS news in Spanish that airs from Spain, Monday to Saturday, and then on
Sundays, we have Latin American News even though it comes from Chile, but they
don’t air any news about Australia and less about the
Spanish-speaking community here. However, there is a good number of Spanish speakers in Australia
for SBS to consider news for Spanish-speakers (P5-I).

Other respondents also reiterated
SBS’s disadvantage, declaring that, unless television audiences are Spanish or
Chilean, they could not receive news from their country of origin or heritage
nor in their own vernacular. Despite this fact, this revealed that an aggregation
process has been at work, with respondents indicating that at the expense of
diversity, the Spanish language has been used as a basis of commonality amongst
individuals of diverse ethnic or national origins. Interview respondent David* journalist (P9-I) mentioned that community ethnic newspapers have remained
important to migrant and ethnic communities in the 21st century,
despite the fact that many of their readers had been, by now, well established
in the Australian way of life, and many Hispanics possessed adequate knowledge
of the English language.

The
benefit of a common language, in addition to culture, produces advantages for
the Spanish language media market, in that it can bond individuals
with Spanish,
Central, and South American origins (Sinclair, 2014; Albarran,
2009; Pires
& Stanton, 2005). Media producers via their Spanish language publications
can aggregate and unite the wider Hispanic community, who can bond via
language, shared culture (colonial past, the Catholic Church), and experiences
(economic instability, military rule, political instability, and socioeconomic
inequality) (Kline, Wade, & Wiarda, 2017; Graham, 2016).