One of Brazil’s oldest radio programs, «A Voz do Brasil», is an authoritarian hangover, and commercial radio stations should not be required to air its content.
Broadcasters are also chronically unhappy with the law requiring them to make way for unpaid election campaigning during this year’s election cycle — a step in the direction of election reform, although not a terribly effective one so long as the more fundamental reform of campaign is not enacted and empowered.
This proposition was the subject of heated debate at an August 23 event at the ESPM — Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing — among the directors of radio stations Bandeirantes, Estadão/ESPN and Jovem Pan.
Rodrigo Neves, Acácio Costa and Paulo Machado de Carvalho Neto, respectively, argued that requiring stations to air this content interferes with the services the stations provide.
A «heated debate» in which all participants agree on the fundamental question?
The director of Jovem Pam, a broadcaster currently leading a campaign against the government program, says it is important to understand that history has evolved, that radio has followed this evolution, and that what was necessary in the 1940s is not necessary today. «Whether to air the content or not should be optional,» «We are a major city, with serious traffic problems, but we have to interrupt our service at 7:00 p.m. to air a program that has absolutely nothing to do [with our mission],»
Carvalho criticized the format of «Voice of Brazil,» as being out of touch with the present.
Neves raised the question of a flexible broadcast schedule as the best option. A bill to this effect would allow radio stations to broadcast VDB at night, sometime before 11:00 p.m. «We can continue to serve our listeners and at the same time still broadcast the government’s content.» Neves said this proposal needs to be evaluated as quickly as possible. «Currently, broadcasters are obliged to run this program free of charge, and if they make a mistake they are stuck with heavy fines», Neves complained.
In Costa’s view, “A monkey does not saw off the branch he is sitting on.»
Monkey analogies: one of the cultural riches of Tropical Portuguese.
Costa used this analogy to illustrate the idea that the government is appropriating airtime in order to promote itself.
Currently, in São Paulo, an injuction allows the following stations to refuse to broadcast VDB: Bandeirantes AM and FM, Estadão/ESPN AM and FM, Rádio Record, Rádio Tupi FM, Nativa FM, Rádio Capital, Gazeta FM, 105 FM, MIX FM, Metropolitana FM, Antena 1 and Transamérica.
The injunction does not affect Jovem Pan AM and FM, CBN AM and FM e Rádio Globo.
The modest volume of content produced seems a little out of step with the volume of the protests — there is no local equivalent to the hours-long prime-time rants of Hugo Chávez — but it is likely the principle the private broadcasters object to.
The most widely service of the EBC was, in fact, created by the Vargas dictatorship, which faced a systematically hostile media environment led by the likes of Carlos Lacerda and took steps to ensure its own bully pulpit.
Founded in 1936 with a private-sector loan, Rádio Nacional do Rio de Janeiro was nationalized four years later by President Getúlio Vargas, who considered radio broadcasting a strategic sector, especially in the context of worldwide war. For more than 20 years, it would top the ratings all over Brazil, playing an important role in the integration of culture and civil society.
When the EBC was formed, its eight state-run radio broadcasting operations were unified under superintendent Orlando Guilhon, who was charged with establishing a public radio system and reorienting the programming and emphasis of each.
Unlike venerable state-sponsored news services of the superpowers and their satellites, TV Brasil Internacional does not have a foreign language service.
Radiobrás has always been a government-owned and -operated media company, just as educational TV stations are controlled by state governments.
The state broadcasters are often the focus of charges that they are politicized by local authorities — Serra in S. Paulo, Requião in Paraná.
In the meantime, in refounding our democracy, the 1988 Constitutional Assembly made a point of establishing, in Article 223, the complementary roles of public, private, and state-run communications systems. Enabling legislation for the state-run system, however, was never passed.
In 2007, a movement encompassing a broad specturm of civil society — academic experts, communicators, film makers, journalists, and radio and TV executives, as well as organizations dedicated to media studies — convened the Fórum da TV Pública, led by Culture Minister Gilberto Gil.
Based on the proposals of this Forum, President Lula committed himself to realizing them. In Provisional Measure 398 of October 2007, later converted by Congress into Bill 652/2008, the Empresa Brasil de Comunicação was created and charged with unifying and managing existing federal broadcasters, with social control. Another mission of the EBC was to create and maintain a Rede Nacional de Comunicação Pública.
EBC is no VOA, which announces, for example, that
Voice of America, Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa, and Radio and TV Martí will share workspace and live positions at both conventions, bringing comprehensive coverage of political America’s showcase gatherings to millions worldwide. In addition to broadcasts, journalists will be posting to Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
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