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University of Helsinki - Journalism in Latin America


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  • 1. “The role of commercial broadcasting andjournalism in Brazil”University of Helsinki, FinlandDr. Carolina MatosGovernment DepartmentUniversity of EssexE-mail:
  • 2. Core readings• Canizalez, Andres and Lugo-Ocando, Jairo (2008) “Beyond NationalMedia Systems: A Media for Latin America and the Struggle forIntegration” in The Media in Latin America, Berkshire: OpenUniversity Press, 209-223• Matos, C. (2012) Media and politics in Latin America: globalization,democracy and identity, London: I.B. Tauris• …….., C. (2008) “Media and Democracy in Brazil: towards a“realistic” settlement” in Journalism and political democracy in Brazil,Maryland: Lexington• Guedes-Bailey, Olga and Jambeiro Barbosa, Othon F. (2008) “Themedia in Brazil: a historical overview of Brazilian broadcastingpolitics” in The Media in Latin America, Open University Press, 46-61• Sinclair, John (1999) Latin America Television: a global view,Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • 3. Key points• Brazilian media: from the dictatorship to thecontemporary years• Journalism and political democracy in Brazil• Latin American broadcasting has adopted USmodel• Commercial television and national identity• The case of TV Globo• The objectivity and professionalism debate• Political journalism and patterns of reporting• The role of the Brazilian journalist in the re-democratization process
  • 4. Daily newspapers and weekly magazinesNewspapers (500)Folha de Sao Paulo (413.000 in2001)Estado de Sao Paulo (364.000)Extra (307.500)O Dia (249.900)Jornal do Brasil (120.000)Magazines (1.485)* Veja (1,1 million)* Playboy (442.200)* Claudia (439.200)* Superinteressante (380.700)* Isto E (372.700)* Exame (181.300)
  • 5. Broadcasters and online mediaTelevision(281 stations in 2001)TV GloboSBTRecordRede TV!CNTOnline media(14 million Internet users)Uol, AOL, IG,Cable televisionNet Brasil & TVASatelliteSky 7 DirecTV
  • 6. Journalism and Political Democracy in Brazil• Historical and political context of Brazil: military dictatorship(1964-1985) imposed censorship and control on the press;fascist-inclined regime• Media were divided in regards to the opening of the regime• Certain sectors pressured for advancement (i.e. Folha inDirect Elections Campaign in 1984 versus resistance of TVGlobo)• Four case studies of political and presidential electionscampaigns since 1984, with the 2002 presidential electionsconsolidating political democracy• Conclusions pointed out to complex role of the markets in re-democratization and to the transformation of the role of thestate since the dictatorship period (from authoritarianism tosocial-democracy)
  • 7. The media and the state, the market, civilsociety and journalism (Matos,2008)• A “free” market press - the market functioned as aliberating and oppressive force at the same time – Limitswhere placed on the increase of public debate due tomedia concentration and excessive commercialization• The state – oppressive or vehicle for social and economicinclusion?• Civil society – negotiation with the market forces, thestate and the media• Journalism – shaped by various forces (state, market andpublic opinion)• Problems to tackle:• - Strengthening of a complex media system with multiplejournalism identities
  • 8. The Brazilian media system during the dictatorship• Authoritarian regimes in Latin America• Brazilian media (1964-1985):a) Militant journalism and resistance in thealternative mediab) Era of “enlightened” debate?c) Alignments of the mainstream mediaversus resistance of certain journalists andnewspapers during specific periods
  • 9. Brazilian media today• Journalism of the 1990’s – Blurring of theboundaries between newsrooms and commercialdepartments• The expansion of professionalism and objectivity• The decline of partisanship and militant journalism- romantic journalism of the 1970’s versuspragmatism of the 1990’s.• Decade of the 90’s - multiple journalism identitiesproliferated in the newsrooms• Period saw an increase of public debate as well as adecline of a more intellectual public sphere• Rise of watchdog journalism and investigativereporting as a contemporary genre of the 1990’s(Waisbord, 2000)
  • 10. Latin American broadcasting has adopted US model• TV in many Latin American countries has developed followingthe US commercial model• I.e. Development of Brazilian television by military plannersin the 60’s onwards contributed for the formation of whatStraubhaar (2001; 138) has defined as the “nationalizingvocation”• It also contributed for the creation of a consumer culture andfor the engagement of Brazilians in the market economy.• Television has taken on a central role in political life, in thecountry’s democratisation process and in the construction ofvarious identities.• It is possible to say that in this sense TV Globo carries someresemblance with the role played by the BBC in the UK.
  • 11. Commercial Brazilian television in an internationalperspective• Global media organisations outside North America and Europe, like TVBfrom Hong Kong, TV Globo (Brazil), Televisa (Mexico) and All-ArabTelevision (Egypt), who target mainly a national market, can firstdominate the local or national domain, then they can export programs andtechnology as well as shape satellite channels in larger global markets.• These patterns of reverse flows between the First and Third Worldcountries have been defined by various scholars (i.e. Giddens inCurran, 2000) as being a reverse type of colonization or reversecultural imperialism. Examples include the export of Braziliantelenovelas to Portugal.• Although Brazil’s Globo TV has managed to reverse some of theflows from ‘Third’ to ‘First’ World countries through the exportationof successful soap-opera programmes, the fact of the matter is thatthe station is a large media company that has been heavilyinfluenced by American commercial formats.
  • 12. Commercial television and national identity• The power that TV Globo has had in shaping national identity andthe political agenda of Brazil stands as one of the key reasons for thegovernmental initiatives and civil society pressures for investmentsin the fortification of the public media.• Since its origins, Brazil has been multiracial and has beensupported on the interplay of cultures and on racial miscegenation.It has been classified by Lauerhass Jr. (2006, 6) as ‘a Creole variantof a European (Portuguese) culture’.• As Voltmer and Schmitt-Beck (2006, 231) have asserted, theexcessive commercialisation of the media in Latin America’s newdemocracies, which has also been influenced by the heavyentertainment diet provided by commercial broadcasting, can beseen as having constituted an obstacle in the process of institution-building and successful democratic consolidation in the continent(Skidmore, 1993; Waisbord, 1995 in Voltmer and Schmitt-Beck,2006).
  • 13. Commercial television and national identity• Various studies have dissected the close ties for instanceestablished between TV Globo in its early years with the dictatorship(i.e. Straubhaar, 2001; Fox, 1997). The military government wasseen as having been interventionist in the media during thedictatorship years, financing microwave, satellite and other aspectsof TV infra-structure, and favouring in particular TV Globo.• Television has without a doubt always had a growing importance inpolitical campaigns in Latin America and in Brazil. TV Globo fromBrazil is considered one of the most powerful and dynamic actors intoday’s global connections (Waisbord, 1995) alongside Mexico’sTelevisa.• TV Globo and Televisa have managed to emerge as the two largestbroadcasters located outside of the developed world which offerglobal competition to the Northern players. Both Globo, with annualrevenue of US$ 1.9 billion, and Televisa, with US$ 1.4 billion, couldfall within the range of the ‘Top 25 Media Groups’ of 1997, as theywere ranked by the trade journal Broadcasting and Cable (Higginsand McClellan, 1997, quoted in Sinclair, 1999, 74).
  • 14. Television and national identity in Brazil• Television to start with has occupied a central role in political life, in thecountry’s democratization process and in the construction of variousidentities.• Considered to be one of the fourth largest in the world according tocommon knowledge (Straubhaar, 2001), significant research has beendone on TV Globo and its role in assisting in identity construction(Porto, 2007; Straubhaar, 2001; Sinclair; 1999).• Television has had the power in setting standards of conduct,influencing lifestyles, selling products and ideas and shaping behavioursand identities.• Various studies (i.e. Hamburger, 2005; Mattelart and Mattelart, 1990;Porto, 2008, 3) have also shown how telenovelas have been able togenerate a ‘unified national public space’, providing audiences with textsthat ‘cut across regional, class and other social boundaries’.• As Possebon (2006) further affirms, according to the Pesquisa Nacionalde Amostragem de Domicilios of the 2005 IBGE census, 91.4% ofBrazilian homes have television. The channels TV Globo and SBT reachmore than 95% of the homes.
  • 15. TV Globo and its role in democratization• Commercial television in Brazil has had a major role in selling notonly cultural goods and ideas, but in shaping lifestyle andconsumerism habits and behaviours of large sectors of thepopulation independently of class, ethnicity and race.• It has also played a significant role in defining national politics andin obstructing, as well as contradictorily assisting, in theconstruction of the democratization project following the end of thedictatorship in 1985 (Matos, 2008; Bucci, 2001; Conti, 1999).• TV Globo has the largest percentage of national content productionin comparison to its competitors, including an average of 70% and100% during peak time (Possebon, 2007, 289).• Brazilian commercial television has thus managed to be at the sametime wholly praised due to the quality of is telenovelas, mini-series,professionalism of actors and visual imagery whilst also havingbeing much criticised for its coverage of politics and its history oflack of balance in the reporting of election campaigns and treatmentof left-wing politics.•
  • 16. The role of soap-operas in democratization• Due to TV Globo’s relationship with the dictatorship regime in itsearly years, there has been controversies in regards to the role thatthe station’s soap-operas have played in providing avenues forpolitical liberalisation during the 1980s (Porto, 2008; Straubhaar,1988).• Straubhaar (1988) has argued for instance that Brazilian soapscontributed to delay support for political opening, whereas Porto(2008, 10) points to the ambiguity of the telenovelas’ texts.• Porto (2008) correctly believes that there is (and has been) a rolefor television fiction in the process of nation-building• Porto (2008) argues that they helped to give meaning and to shapethe political process by incorporating new demands coming from amore organised civil society. He underlined the work of authorssuch as Dias Gomes, and soaps like O Bem Amado (The Well Loved,1973) and Roque Santeiro (1985), as being emblematic of suchactions.
  • 17. The case of TV Globo• TV Globo’s wider commitment to representing balanced politicaldebate has grown as a response to the critiques that it received inrelation to its coverage of the key presidential elections of the post-dictatorship phase (i.e. Bucci, 2000; Skidmore, 1993; Fox, 1997).• From the mid-1990s onwards, it started to be pressured to improveits journalism and balance criterias, at the same time that it beganto suffer from competition posed by other television stations, cableTV and the Internet.• Former director of journalism of TV Cultura, Gabriel Priolli,president of the Brazilian Association of University TVs (ABTV), hasargued that Brazilian commercial television has played a powerfulrole in the diffusion of the national Brazilian sentiment, largelyidentified with the white Rio and Sao Paulo elites.• TV Globo’s telenovelas have undoubtedly also had a large role in thebuilding of this unifying national identity. Many have argued that ahighly commercial entertainment and advertising diet hasencouraged the development of a particular individualistic andconsumerist personality.
  • 18. TV Globo’s popular programmes• Many sectors of the Brazilian audience continue to rate soapshighly, including them among their favourite programming,alongside Jornal Nacional. TV Globo on the other hand has alsotried to respond better to criticism, and has began also to marketitself as producing culture.• This is evident in its more recent slogan, “Cultura, a gente se ve porai” (Culture: we will see each other around).• With an average of 40 points daily nonetheless, Globo’s JornalNacional is still the highest audience rating in Brazilian TV(Meditsch, Moreira and Machado, 2005).• TV Globo’s popularity has however been in decline. In April 2010,the station registered the lowest average audience rating in adecade, of 16.8 points per day. Ibope also detected a decline ofinterest in open television in general, attributing this to variousreasons including the type of programming, growth of the Internet,access to DVDs as well as competition from other leisure activities.
  • 19. Quotes from interviews“Open television has been incapable of developing relevantthemes or even to use national values, like music, to assist inconstructing a national identity. The ways in which we canimprove the quality of Brazilian television is to oblige them toinclude a quota for local production..... The issue is mainly tomake room for wider competition, allowing the entry of newplayers. It is a market in which the only real competitors areGlobo and Record, with the latter trying to imitate Globo’smodel. The only way to break this mediocrity pact is to openspaces for new players...”(Journalist Luis Nassif, former FSP columnist andpresenter of the TV Brasil debating
  • 20. The debate on objectivity and balance in journalism:historical perspectives (in Matos, 2008)• According to US historians, journalists and academics(Waisbord, 2002; Tumber, 1999; Schudson, 1978), amore sophisticated reading of the ideal of objectivitygained strengthen amongst American journalistsbecause of their..questioning of their own subjectivity.• Objectivity was also seen as vital for publishers andtheir needs to move away from highly politicizedpublications.... It also began to be considered anecessity by journalists who wanted their work to betaken seriously... Tumber, 1999; Merritt, 1995;Schudson, 1978; Tuchman, 1972)• Model of “information” and factual journalism...wasmainly represented by the success of the New YorkTimes since the 1890’s.
  • 21. The objectivity dilemma (in Matos, 2008)• Critics have argued how objectivity serves as a defense system forjournalists and news organizations to repudiate charges of bias(Tuchman, 1972, 1999).• Tuchman (1972) has stated that professional norms produce storiesthat support the existing order. She has examined the newsman’snotion of objectivity by focusing on some standard journalismpractices, such as the presentation of all sides of a story during aperiod of time (the balance criteria)• As Hackett and Zhao (1998, 88) state, the objectivity regimepersists precisely because “it does offer openings, however unequal,to different social and cultural groups”.• Critiques blame decline of public life on journalism• - Decrease in interest runs deeper (I.e. decline of modernism,growth of cynicism, relativism, individualism, etc).
  • 22. Political journalism as an avenue for debate: from the directelections to 2002• Due to the shift from the powers of the state to those of the marketin the late 1980’s, there was a transition from forms of politicalconstraints to economic motives.• FSP columnist Janio de Freitas has argued that political power inBrazil has learned to live better with press liberty than business has:• “Journalism is an exercise which is badly tolerated by theeconomic and social power.., including the political power. I thinkalso that the political power has been more affected by pressliberty, but it is the one which has learned to live with journalismbetter. The economic power does not tolerate this…”.• I.e. Concerns of the business world regarding how ‘the market’would react to the possibility of the PT being sworn into power in1994 and in 2002, and the type of political decisions which could bemade because of this, such as an abandonment of the privatisationprogramme, the rise of the minimum wage or the reluctance insigning a deal with the IMF imposed constraints on the coverage
  • 23. Political journalism as an avenue for debate: from thedirect elections to 2002• Similarly to Janio, Nassif is critical of the economic orthodoxy thatmarked the decade of the 1990’s:• “After 94/95, you see how financial journalism has been subordinated tothe clichés of the market in a scandalous form. Who are the winners of thismodel, which was in place mainly from 1994 and 1998, but whichcontinues? It is a model of globalisation with social exclusion…Whensome journalists went to ask questions to Gustavo Franco (formerpresident of the Central Bank) in a seminar in Rio, the answer was that themarket does not allow it…how do you construct such a model ofsubordination of the country to the market?”• If on one hand the market functioned as a liberating force in thepost-dictatorship period, guaranteeing wider press freedom andexercising the watchdog role, on the other hand it also imposedlimits on the consolidation of political democracy and on the widerdemocratisation of Brazilian society
  • 24. Patterns of political reporting post-1994• The early 1990’s were years of struggle for both political and economicstability. This decade saw a strengthening of the role of the presidency,with high expectations being placed by the population on individualpoliticians and presidents regarding the chances that they could actuallyreduce social inequality levels and boost economic growth.• The result was the formation of a pattern of political reporting whichfavoured direct tug-of-wars between candidates, reflecting aspects ofBrazilian culture with its cult of personalism and authority figures (DaMatta, 1979).• The content and critical textual analysis conducted in my first research(Matos, 2008) showed that, similar to 1989, the 1994 elections were“individualized” around the personalities, personal ambitions and qualitiesof the main candidates. This was the case in relation to the two mainpolitical players of the 1990’s (Lula and Cardoso), who sometimes hadtheir personalities more subjected to debate by the media than theirpolitical and economic programmes.
  • 25. Role of the Brazilian journalist in the re-democratization process• The Brazilian journalist has played a contradictory role in the whole re-democratization process, from the direct elections campaigns of 1985 untilthe 2002 elections of Lula• Multiple journalism identities have proliferated in the newsrooms, from asocial responsibility ethos to professionalism and militancy• Brazilian political journalism has also been marked by ambiguity, havingreinforced professional journalistic standards as well as maintainedpartisan practices• Period has not seen a linear progress – there were some mediaimprovements in the aftermath of the dictatorship, but genuine mediademocratization has not been achieved• This is why there are still main pressures placed by civil society players,academics and journalists for the advancement of media reforms andregulation policies