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Last Updated: Friday, 29 June 2007, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Brazilian media: Quality and quantity
By Denize Bacoccina
BBC Brasil, Brasilia

Across Brazil, there are some 4,500 radio stations and 600 TV channels, almost all in private hands. Their owners include politicians and churches, especially evangelical organisations.

A cafe in Brazil with people watching TV
Time for TV - most Brazilians get their news from the small screen
Broadcasting licences are granted by the federal government - 10 years for radio, 15 years for TV. Renewal, although bureaucratic, is usually automatic.

No-one in the broadcasters' association could remember the last time a licence was not renewed.

The government's presence in Brazil's media market is set to increase in the next few months with the launch of a new state television channel. Currently there is just one and it can only been seen via cable.

This new station's profile has provoked much discussion. The government says it will be an independent public service channel, serving not the authorities but society.

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This guarantee is not written in its statute and whether it fulfils this role will depend entirely on the government.

Critics fear the channel will just become a propaganda vehicle for the government.

Even among the various ministries working on the project there is still no consensus on the new channel's content - or even its aims.

Soaps and gossips

Given Brazil's size, radio stations are usually local - or at most regional. Most of the radio stations play music - mainly Brazilian. Phone-in shows are also popular.

It is the reverse with TV channels. Although they broadcast locally, the programmes are usually nationally produced by the few networks that dominate the market.

Shows on most of the TV channels follow the same pattern - children's programmes in the morning, with lots of cartoons; news bulletins and sports chat at lunchtime; "women's" programmes in the afternoon, full of soap star gossip and cookery ideas.

In the evening, soap operas dominate - they are Brazilian television's main export. There are some films, usually American and dubbed. The channels also broadcast their main news programme, which are no longer than an hour and stuffed with reports such as the birth of a baby panda in some Asian zoo.

Courting readers

As for the written media, just walk past a news stand and you get an idea of how diverse it is - cookery and crochet magazines alongside porn and celebrity gossip. There are weekly, fortnightly and monthly news magazines of all political strands, although the majority are pro-establishment.

Brazilian newspapers
There are lots of publications on offer in Brazil
There is no lack of publications, but what is lacking are readers. Newspapers sell no more than 7.2m copies a day - in a country of 189m people. Last year, 406m magazines were sold, an average of just over two per person.

There is no censorship. People who feel attacked by the press have recourse to the law - either for damages or to have publication blocked. Resorting to an injunction is rare and when it happens it usually provokes fierce criticism that freedom of the press is being undermined.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has publicly complained on several occasions that the press only report negative stories and are reluctant to speak positively about the country.

(The press) is very elitist. The reader doesn't identify with what he is reading
Professor Luiz Gonzaga Motta
Brasilia University
But columnist Diogo Mainardi from the biggest-selling weekly news magazine, Veja, disagrees, believing the press is too close to the government.

Professor Luiz Gonzaga Motta, who runs the political and media studies centre at Brasilia University, believes the Brazilian media are generally of a good quality. He notes that of the 70 all-news channels in the world, two are in Brazil.

But he says newspapers concentrate too much on party politics and economic issues, overlooking social problems, violence and science news.

"(The press) is very elitist. The reader doesn't identify with what he is reading," he said.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Brazil
12 May 07 |  Country profiles

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