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Globo, Top Hats and the Numbers Game

globo-estrume

A follow up to last October’s post on corruption in the incestuous world of politics, sports and media policy and how the debate over a proposed Media  Law is making its way through the legislature as media owners howl and unleash the dogs of war.

Journalist Luis Nassif recent published the necessary information that  the emperor has no clothes. I translate a selected passage.

The indignant journalists at Globo’s CBN were fast on the trigger: The 7-1 loss to the Germans proves, they said, that President Dilma Rousseff is a “bad luck charm”.

Bad luck my eye! Is that not something  legendary announcer Galvão Bueno used to say?

As sophisticated analysts of politics and the economy, Globo talking heads felt they could argue that Dilma may be to be blame — as they once did with Lula and his predecessor, Cardoso, and other presidents — for not sufficiently attending to the modernization of Brazilian football.

They might have made even more of this argument. The explanation for the worst defeat for Brazilian — Latin American, really — football ever lies in the fact that most of their players come from European teams, in Great Britain, Germany and France.

This could well be the most damning evidence of all of how underdeveloped the sport has become: a mere exporter of skilled labor for a finished product assembled in Europe and its championships, which remain prosperous despite the current crisis.

The main question, however, is who hid the [fruit in the treetop, out of reach]? Who is to blame for the collapse of] Brazilian football?

If the analysts wanted to delve more deeply into the question, they might display their knowledge and erudition in all things sporting, by recalling that afternoon in July 1921, in Jersey City, in which there appeared for the first time the Galvão Bueno figure, the mass media sports announcer. . Andrew White, an amateur boxer himself, was making ready to narrate the Dempsey-Carpentier fight for the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). 61 cities has set up “radio salons” for an estimated public of hundreds of thousands of listeners.

After that, what was once a hobby of amateur radio enthusiasts became the most popular and respected aspect of radio transmissions.

Or perhaps the brilliant minds of CBN want listeners to appreciate a litttle bit of what it is like to describe the sporting events that make their announcers the most influential figures in the marketplace of opinion: the media groups.

They could illustrate how the networks and their programming evolved over the decades, with grand sporting events, providing a secure anchor in attracting the attention of listeners,

Later, they could move on to the story of other aspects of the media groups and their development.

In a sudden onset of modesty, they might recognize that in any media group, the importance of journalism is proportional to audience numbers, and that the audience had come to depend on these showcase events. It was precisely for this reason that football lent journalism its presitige and influence.

Globo and its strategy for becoming the largest media group in Latin America is not a part of the story these talking heads have to tell. If they looked further into the story, however, they might remember that Rio Carnaval and football tended to consolidate viewership, paving the way for soap operas and the nightly Jornal Nacional newscast.

Here, some expert source — a security expert or a sociologist of crime — might recall that in order to secure its monopoly over both these events, the high and mighty Globo had to negotiate, on one hand, with the numbers racketeers that dominate the Rio Carnaval and its escolas, and on the other, the “top hats” [fat cats] who have dominated the CBF — the football confederation — ever since the days when it was still known as the CDB –The Brazilian Sporting Confederation.

In order to avoid pissing Globo off, these persons are liable to say that the network was a victim of the backwardness of Brazilian society, which put it in the position of having to navigate the swamp without getting dirty.

These are the most adamant conclusions offered to radio listeners.

Thanks to ties with the underworld of numbers bankers and corrupt fat cats, Globo is victorious in its assault on the radio market. And thanks to Globo, racketeers and “top hats” have built a powerful superstructure of the Brazilian state, an extraordinary game of win-win from which the Globo-bicho and Globo-fat cat arrangements support a position of enormous power and an exceptional sense of privilege and impunity.

[to come]