When Channel 13, Chile’s most important TV station, shoots shows like Bienvenidos and Master Chef, they never show the corners of the room. This makes the area seem larger, more impressive. But while the camera cuts corners, the channel itself certainly does not.
The media outlet is a well-oiled machine, complete with switchboards, celebrity anchors, and 14 studios. Our group watched a live production of the channel’s morning show. As we watched, six TV personalities sat around a table discussing the daily horoscope. As the cameras panned from one host to the next, the offscreen players used their phones to check Facebook and Instagram. Commercial breaks were also spent looking down casually at an iPhone. This low-key, casual work environment is part of what makes the Chilean work culture so laid back.
Many of the workers make their own schedules, signing labor codes that state they are free to leave work at their leisure, as long as the work gets done. This despreocupada attitude is prevalent throughout Chilean culture, in and outside of the workplace.
Though the pressure of a mandatory schedule is seemingly low, there is really no such thing as a slow day when it comes to reporting the news. The journalists at the TV station were constantly on the move, working diligently to cover the many stories on the sidewalks of Santiago. The station is also persistently evaluating their ratings. Unlike the U.S., where ratings are updated every 15 minutes, reflecting the percentage of viewers tuned into the show, Chile adds one point to a rating for every 80,000 people watching the Channel every minute.
Ratings affect what companies want to do advertising with the station. Advertising is the main source of revenue for a TV station, it is important to sell commercials at high prices. During the commercial breaks, a number of advertisements played for products – cream to erase stretch marks, beer, you name it. During the Bienvenidos’ commercial break, one of the main hosts read a live advertisement for a company. Our tour guide noted that this is the most expensive and most effective ad, because TV viewers will not change the channel when they see the main host speaking. We gained an even more informed perspective of that later in the day, when we toured Principal Financial.
But before we crossed a moat to enter the lovely fiscal world, we had the opportunity to witness a few other sectors in Chile that don’t cut corners: We visited the Costanera Center, the largest building in all of South America. It’s 64 floors and the largest mall in Latin America on the first five floors. Unlike in the U.S., everything was organized. Home and sports were on the fourth floor, with women’s and men’s fashion on the floors below. The fifth floor was mostly restaurants while the fourth floor was all sports and technology.
Comparing the Costanera Center to the Jordan Creek Town Center, the mall in West Des Moines, you can see a plethora of differences in organization and size. However, a mall is a mall. People drag their kids and shopping bags around, in hopes that Banana Republic will have a shoe sale. One major difference was the level of security in the mall. The front of most stores had a security guard on duty. This mall ran a tight ship – and it was easy to see that the last thing The Costanera would cut was a corner.