Two dramatically different images of mass communication have emerged from research in post-industrial societies and in the developing nations of the "Third World". In predominantly agricultural countries, where mass media resources tend to be limited and a high proportion of the population poor and under-educated, the media have been pictured as exercising powerful structural constraints over people's knowledge and thinking. By contrast, research in the United States and Western Europe has become more and more organised around models that emphasise the degree to which use of mass media is under the control of the audience. In this paper, we test the applicability of several models of mass communication in a regional urban centre of Venezuela, a nation that has many of the social attributes common among developing countries but an elaborate and highly professional mass media system. Most of our attention here will be given to models that have been applied with some success in post-industrial nations, to assess the extent to which these conceptions of mass communication fit the realities of a less-developed society that is as media-rich as most North American or European countries.