Radio is the most important source of information in Uruguay and plays a significant role in shaping public opinion. A few television stations are identified with political parties, but their affiliation is not as strong as that of newspapers, which continue to impact public opinion in this highly literate country. The state-owned Servicio Oficial de Radio, TV y Espectaculos (SODRE) is a public service institution designed to guarantee Uruguayan citizens the “right to information, freedom of expression, and access to high-quality radio products.” The audience share for state-owned media tends to be low. Freedom of the press, which is guaranteed by Article 29 of the Constitution, is respected in Uruguay, according to Reporters Without Borders and UNESCO. Half of the population has access to the Internet, but only 5% read the news online. Use of emerging media in Uruguay follows the trend in Latin America, with a marked preference for the social networking websites Facebook and Orkut. Cable TV is the first telecommunications sector to experience the effects of the recession. Mobile phone penetration is very high.
Uruguay is currently in the midst of a dual transition. First, there is an economic transition from the 2002 crisis towards a path of equitable and sustainable development, as the economy continues to recover strongly. Second, there is a political transition, as the victory of the Frente Amplio – Encuentro Progresista – Nueva Mayoría coalition in the October 2004 elections marked a new phase in the country’s political history.