This article reviews the authoritarian regimes, and the subsequent transitions to democracy, that existed in Latin America in the last third of the 20th Century. It is argued that, unlike in other cases, the political science account of such changes, usually selfdescribed as “transitology”, does indeed fit the evidence fairly well. On the other hand, such an account demonstrably fails to illuminate very important features of the experience, notably the relative lack of change in the ownership, structure and practices of the mass media, which is very strongly marked in television. The same large companies that collaborated with, and benefited from, the authoritarian regimes, are still in a dominant position. At the same time, many of the extreme social inequalities that characterise the continent have either hardly been addressed or have actually been exacerbated. It is therefore concluded that these examples are equally well or better explained by a theory that stresses the degree of social continuity between the different political orders.