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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK
Brazilian media magnate dies
Roberto Marinho in 1993
'The journalist' Marinho often aired his views as prime-time 'editorials'
The Brazilian media mogul Roberto Marinho has died aged 98.

Marinho turned a small evening paper founded by his father into a global media network that spanned magazines and newspapers, a radio network, a publishing house and TV Globo, Brazil's premier television network.

But he also acquired notoriety as a supporter of the brutal 1964-85 military dictatorship and for suppressing investigations into his links with the government.

Marinho died on Wednesday night after being rushed to hospital suffering a pulmonary edema earlier in the day.

TV Globo interrupted programming to inform viewers of the death of "the journalist", the only attribution he allowed.

Unparalleled influence

Roberto Marinho was born on 3 December 1904 in Rio de Janeiro. In 1911, his father Irineu established the evening newspaper A Noite.

In 1925, he sold A Noite and founded O Globo, but within 21 days he had died and control of the newspaper passed to the young reporter Roberto.

Roberto quickly worked his way up the ladder and by 1931 - aged 26 - became managing editor. Under his direction, Organizacoes Globo expanded, beginning radio broadcasts in 1944 and launching TV Globo some 20 years later.

I'll fight with the army minister, but not with Roberto Marinho
Former President Tancredo Neves
TV Globo, with 113 stations, now reaches 99.9% of Brazilian homes and has unparalleled influence. Its steamy, smart telenovelas - soap operas - find audiences as far away as Russia, the US and China.

TV Globo's launch coincided with the 1964 overthrow of leftist President Joao Goulart. Military rulers wanted a telecommunications network that would publicise policy initiatives and inform the cultural and news agenda. Globo became that voice.

Roberto Marinho, left, with Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Influential: Marinho, left, with then President Fernando Henrique Cardoso in 1999
Marinho used his influence to publicise his own views - often aired as prime-time "editorials" - and single out individual politicians for favour or censure.

In 1985, President-elect Tancredo Neves selected a close friend of Marinho's as his communications minister, justifying his choice by saying "I'll fight with the army minister, but not with Roberto Marinho".

Three days' mourning

Marinho was criticised for largely ignoring human rights abuses and pro-democracy demonstrations of the period.

In 1993, the Brazilian screening of a BBC documentary that examined his links to government was mysteriously cancelled by order of the Sao Paulo state governor, allegedly at Marinho's behest.

One of his fiercest critics during the dictatorship was current Workers' Party President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

But last night, Lula - as he is known - praised Marinho and decreed three days' mourning. Lawmakers in Brazil's lower house of Congress halted a debate on pensions reform to hold a minute's silence.

Marinho is survived by his third wife - Lily Carvalho, a former Miss France whom he married when he was 86 - and three sons.

Country profile: Brazil
05 Jul 03  |  Country profiles

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