Official Country Name: Federative Republic of Brazil

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TV Globo

TV Tupi dominated Brazilian television during the 1950s and 1960s, but in the 1970s and 1980s, TV Globo became the largest television network in the country. TV Globo, also known as Rede Globo (Globo Network) was, well into the 1990s, the world's most consistently watched private TV network.

In 1998, TV Globo was still the fourth largest network in the world, regularly attracting 55 percent of the country's audience, and about 70 percent of the advertising revenue. However, with the growth of cable and satellite television, Globo started to experience a decline in ratings, dipping just under half of the audience for the first time in almost 30 years.

As late as April 2002, Brazil's giant media organization was still one of the top five commercial television networks in the world, commanding an estimated daily viewership of 100 million people at prime time. Advertisers responded to this large number of viewers. In 1995, US$ 3.6 billion were spent in television advertising in Brazil, with an estimated half of that total ending up in TV Globo's coffers.

The network thrived during the military regime (1964-1985), when it received special treatment and financial incentives from successive governments. The conglomerate both reflected and legitimated the authoritarian regime's ideology of "development and national security."

TV Globo initially aimed its programming at the lower economic strata of the population, competing directly with then leader TV Tupi. By the end of the 1960s, Globo had succeeded in attracting a large audience, mostly in detriment of TV Tupi's audience. The rise of Globo in the popular preference coincided with the death of media mogul Assis Chateaubriand, which detonated a process of internal disputes and bad management that ended up by destroying TV Tupi, which went bankrupt in the 1970s.

Television critics have characterized Rede Globo's role at gaining public support for the military regimes as subtler than mere propaganda. Some of them have noticed that the first military governments (1964 to 1974) pursued exclusionary policies that led them to rely on continued repression to maintain hegemony.

The following period (1975 to 1985) marked a so-called transition from military to civilian rule. Legitimacy, then, had to be obtained more through the construction of cultural and ideological hegemony than through overt repression.

TV Globo played a key role in both periods. In the first one, widely watched telenovelas worked to create a positive, happy and optimistic image of the country and its people, when the so-called Brazilian 'economic miracle' was emphasized to support the idea that "Esse é um país que vai pra frente" ("This is a country that moves forward," a popular government slogan of the time).

In the second period, when loss of legitimacy due to economic recession led the military regimes to propose the alternative of transition to civilian rule, Rede Globo threw all the heavy weight of its news coverage to support indirect transition (a civilian president indirectly elected by an electoral college), as opposed to a president chosen by the popular vote. The main consequence of the tactic was a complete ignorance of the unprecedented popular demonstrations demanding diretas já (direct elections now).

The second largest Brazilian network, Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão (SBT), was launched in August 1981. Owned by game show host Silvio Santos, SBT has nine local stations, including its national broadcasting center in São Paulo, and 76 affiliated stations throughout the country. The network's programming is a mix of game shows, sensational journalism, soap operas (in-house productions and Mexican imports) and popular comedy shows.

SBT prides itself on being Brazil's second-largest network. The network's penetration is strongest in São Paulo. According to the Nielsen data furnished by SBT on its Internet home page, in 1997, the network had 30 percent of the advertising market share in São Paulo in 1995. Globo had 43 percent; Bandeirantes 11 percent; Manchete 10 percent; Record two percent and independent stations four percent.

It is worth noting that the third largest Brazilian television network, TV Record, is owned by Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus (Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, UCKG), an evangelical, revivalist Christian church that emerged in 1977, and that has now become one of the fastest-growing religious groups in the country.

In 1996, the UCKG owned TV Record and its 25 affiliates, besides 35 radio stations and two mass circulation newspapers. Its controversial leader, the self-appointed Bishop Edir Macedo, was investigated in the early 1990s for alleged links to a Colombian drug cartel, and has attracted the wrath of the all-powerful media mogul Roberto Marinho, who founded and, until the late-1990s, ran the Globo media empire. In the late 1990s, with its mix of sensationalism and crass programming, TV Record was seriously threatening the audience leadership of TV Globo in parts of the country.

Electronic News Media

Brazilian media ratings firm Ibope estimated in August 2001 that 20 percent of Brazilians living in urban areas had Internet access. According to Ibope and NetRatings (the Internet arm of the Nielsen ratings corporation), those numbers had put Brazil ahead of countries such as Spain and France, in terms of Internet users.

Comparatively, only 1.9 percent of Mexico's population was connected to the Internet in June 2001, according to the Organization for Economic Development & Cooperation. Widespread adoption of computers and the Internet by Brazilian consumers led the U.S. Yankee Group to predict that 42.3 million Brazilians will be surfing the Web by 2006.

As happens in other developed or emerging countries, most Internet users report using it to search for news and information. In fact, out of the three most popular Brazilian Web portals— , , and —only the last one is not funded, sponsored or supported by a major news organization. News stories, however, play a very prominent part in the design and content of all of those sites.

Because of its cheap, global and "boundary-less" nature, the Internet has also become a very important (and in some cases the only) way of delivering unrestricted and uncensored news outside of particular countries and regions. Similarly, the Web has become the preferred news delivery medium for Brazilian expatriates wanting


to keep up with current affairs back at home and for all other foreign users with social, economic and political interests in particular countries or regions.

Education & TRAINING

Journalism and mass media university programs became very popular in Brazil in the early 1980s. By the end of that decade, new university-trained journalists were fast replacing reporters and editors with no formal training in television and newspaper newsrooms across the country.

In the early 1990s, an overwhelming majority of practicing journalists had undergone university training in mass communications. Up to the previous decade, most journalists had been recruited out of political science, law, Portuguese, and sociology courses.

That change was partly due to the fact that in the 1980s, sindicatos dos jornalistas (journalists unions) pressured the federal government to recognize and accredit the profession. As a consequence, university programs strove to receive professional and government accreditation, and news organizations were pressured to hire more university-trained journalists.

A national organization called Intercom (short for Sociedade Brasileira de Estudos Interdisciplinares da Comunicação), congregates journalism educators and students in the country, promoting research and education in the field of mass communication.


Despite the country's inconsistent tradition as far as press freedom, Brazilian newspapers have developed throughout the 1980s and 1990s a keen sense of independence and social responsibility. As a result of that process, and of their newfound watchdog role, circulation and readership have been up, and Brazilian newspapers enter the twenty-first century with renewed hopes and high expectations.

The Brazilian democracy and the country's economy have been stable for more than a decade, and newspapers seem to be taking full advantage of economic prosperity and institutional stability. Although readership is still low, if compared to most industrialized countries, the most popular dailies reach an ever increasing audience, with the top four papers maintaining a combined circulation of 1.4 million copies daily. Both the broadcasting industry and the Internet have experienced an astounding growth in the 1990s and early 2000s, which also bodes very well for the future of these emergent technologies in Brazil.

Significant Dates

  • 1992: Newspapers play a very important role in exposing corruption and irregularities that lead to the impeachment of President Fernando Collor.

  • July 1997: Brazil enacts its new Telecommunications Code, which creates a new federal agency responsible for granting telecommunications licenses.

  • August 2001: An estimated 20 percent of Brazilians living in urban areas have access to news and information on the Internet.

  • April 2002: A bill proposing to open Brazilian mass media to foreign ownership is approved by the Chamber of Deputies and expected to be ratified by the Senate and the President.


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Raul Reis

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