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The Show of the Year

Casa dos Artistas became a fever, with 20 million people
watching it daily. The 9-pm spectacle went
to peaks
of 43 points in the Ibope, the Brazilian Nielsen.
Globo Network, which for 28 years has led
the Sunday
with the prime-time program Fantástico, ran for cover.

By

Alessandra Dalevi

With opportunism, little scruple and a recipe that has drawn TV audiences around the world, SBT (Sistema Brasileiro
de Televisão—Brazilian System of Television) has consistently beaten Globo—a TV network that with opportunism and
little scruple has maintained a far-ahead first place for decades—in the Brazilian TV’s audience war. The answer to the
almost uncontested Globo’s leadership is Casa dos
Artistas (Artists’ Home), a term that until now meant a retirement home for
older artists who in their old age were having serious financial problems.

Casa dos Artistas is based on "Big Brother," a creation from the Dutch TV. Aired originally in Holland in 1999 the
idea was sold to 33 countries. In Britain, "Big Brother" was a hit in the summer of 2000. The show with a group of unknowns
locked inside a house without any contact with the outside world was the talk of the country, and its final episode was seen by
10 million people. In the US the idea was less successful. CBS paid $20 million and used 28 cameras (including in the
bathroom) and 60 microphones to capture for three months the life of 10 people confined in a wired house built in San Fernando
Valley, in Greater Los Angeles. They all had to fit in two bedrooms. Every two weeks two people were eliminated by votes from
their peers and the TV audience, the last one got a reward of half a million dollars. The show that started with a 27 share
(almost one third of all TV sets turned on that night) in the Nielsen ratings soon fell to a 10 share (less than 10% of the TV viewers.

Silvio Santos, a folkloric figure and former street vendor who owns and controls SBC as a small town coffee shop,
enjoyed all the success without paying a dime to the Dutch and chose for housemates a group of semi-celebrities of Brazilian TV,
fashion and music world. The detention would last 50 days. The prize for the last survivor: around $100 thousand. The airing of
the program was maintained a secret until Sunday, October 28, when SBT started to air promos of the show.


The show became a fever, with 20 million people watching it daily.
Veja (1.3 million copies), Brazil’s most influential
weekly newsmagazine, dedicated a cover to the program. The 9-pm spectacle went to peaks of 43 points in the Ibope, the
Brazilian Nielsen. Globo, which for 28 years has led the Sunday with the prime-time program Fantástico, ran for cover while rocker
Supla one of the guest in the Casa dos
Artistas sang with his 11 companions of captivity:

Mais um dia aqui
sem poder sair
dentro desta prisão
Silvio Santos vem aí
com muito Ibope ele vai sorrir


Another day here
Not being allowed to leave
Inside this prison
Silvio Santos is coming
With lots of Ibope he’ll smile


Globo went to court to prevent the program from being aired. After all, it had a good reason for that: the giant
network—the 4th biggest in the world, just after the American three sisters—had bought, in August, the rights to exhibit the show
in Brazil. The show is scheduled for March 2002.

For some time, the Rio network seemed to have the upper hand. A judge accepted the argument of Globo that
Casa dos Artistas was a breach of copyright and ordered SBT to stop airing the show. The measure, though, was annulled by
another judge, and the show went on.

Thomas Notermas, spokesman for Endemol, the Dutch company that created Big Brother, says that he deals with
piracy of their shows all the time, but nothing has ever come close to SBT’s plagiarism: "This is the most scandalous infraction
I’ve ever seen."

Luis Erlangeer, director of Central Globo de Comunicação, called the SBT action an act of piracy: "This must seem
like just another skirmish to the audience, but it’s something much more serious. It’s a question of knowing if intellectual
property is something that will be respected in Brazil."

The fancy living room was the favorite place for the participants to show off most of the time in skimpy clothes.
Silvio Santos used a neighbor’s house, in the Morumbi neighborhood in which he lives, to be adapted to serve as the stage
for his show. The participants had to make do with two bedrooms, one bathroom and a kitchen.

Differently from the European model, SBT chose people well known from the Brazilian public. People like models
Alessandra Iscatena, Mari Alexandre, Núbia Ólive and Nana Gouveia, actress Bárbara Paz, singer Patrícia Coelho, singers Supla
(rocker and son of São Paulo’s mayor Marta Suplicy) and Leandro Lehart, plus actors Alexandre Frota, Matheus Carrieri,
Taiguara Nazareth and Marcos Mastronelli. Two of the girls showed it all in Playboy, two of the boys also appeared naked in magazines.

Forty microphones and 33 cameras were installed, most of them behind mirrors in a way that the cameramen could
not be seen by the artists. More than a simple dispute the war between the number one and far-behind number two showed the degree of
distrust and the bad blood between the two competitors.


In its official announcement Globo accused Santos’s network of piracy reclaiming higher moral ground. "The
Brazilian entertainment industry can only grow if it’s based on respect for the law and moral principles." To which SBT replied
also in an official note: "The Brazilian entertainment industry can only grow if TV Globo will let it."


Globo’s official note:


"A country that does not respect the intellectual right will never be developed. The Brazilian entertainment industry
can only grow if it’s based on respect for the law and moral principles.

Frequently our images are used without authorization—disrespecting and preventing artists and technicians to
receive credit for their work. Once again we are victims of piracy: SBT presents a show that’s nothing more than a sensationalist
plagiarism of Big Brother, a world famous attraction, whose rights were acquired by us in August, as is common knowledge.

Our indignation is even bigger because at the time that the Brazilian society yearns for ethics, this type of behavior
is an example of disregard for one of the most elementary values—the one that
one’s rights end where another’s
rights begin. We have no other remedy but to appeal to the Justice, which, we should mention, has just voted in our favor in another
action against the same TV, which was fined and forbidden to air a plagiarism of our program
Gente Inocente (Innocent People)."

Central Globo de Comunicação.


SBT’s official response:


"The Brazilian entertainment industry can only grow if TV Globo will let it. Globo Network commemorates the first
defeat of its show Fantástico threatening to sue SBT for plagiarism of a program not shown. Not satisfied with defeating Globo
TV’s audience index all through Sunday, SBT had the imprudence of, for the first time defeat the
Fantástico, without asking for the due forgiveness to this pillar of morality and correction that is Globo TV.

In truth, SBT on Sunday lost only to Corinthians (popular soccer team), one of the hired hands of Globo, which
was not playing as expected, but ended up playing a great match. To top it all, Saturday, battling against SBT’s
novela, the
Jornal Nacional (prime-time new program) hit a new mark in its downhill trajectory, going down to 31 percent, a new experience.
All of this without mentioning Xuxa, Faustão and other innocent people, all of them deserving of our esteem and respect,
but who are routinely defeated on Sunday afternoons.

For all of this it is fair that Globo sue us, even though it is for plagiarism of a program that hasn’t even been
produced. It will be plagiarism by guess, by premonition. Globo is right when it says it is a victim of SBT and its illegal practices. After all, due to the fierce, immoral and illegal persecution of which it is a victim, Globo TV has been reduced to a
mere National TV Network, plus a National Radio Network, plus half a dozen newspapers that haven’t allowed it yet to
eliminate the competition, including a new newspaper in São Paulo that, as we all know, didn’t have a newspaper with the high
ethical and moral principles of the current Diário de São
Paulo.

Not to talk about the companies and entrepreneurs affiliated with the company, each one less powerful than the
other, not having, as a rule, more than the leading newspaper in each state. This is so true that they only own a sole company of
Television by Satellite, distributing mere 60 channels, and a few
other cable TVs with the same number of channels.

Also in the editorial area, Globo has not surpassed a couple of dozen titles and it wasn’t able either, until today, to
eliminate other recording companies with its Som Livre. Let make if brief: so much is the persecution moved against the company
by the insatiable SBT that Globo was able to secure exclusivity only for the whole Brazilian football and the next two World
Cups. All of this without places to present their ads, without resources for a more aggressive marketing, causing them
enormous losses and offering gifts for those who subscribe to their titles, modest that’s true, only TV sets or plane tickets to any
place in Brazil.

Globo is right when it says in its note that "the Brazilian entertainment industry can only grow if it’s based (sic) on
the respect for the law and moral principles" and that "society yearns for ethics."

This is true. As we know, it is highly moral and ethical to pay fines and assume the judicial cases of author under
contract, so that SBT cannot use a sole writer; it is extremely ethical to buy events to not show them; to suborn people under
contract only to mess up the competition; as we know, it’s extremely ethical to sell newspaper at the cost of desperate parents
and kidnapped daughter (a reference to the covering Globo gave to the kidnapping of Silvio Santos’s young daughter earlier
this year even though the tycoon had asked media outlets to not divulge news while negotiations were going on for the
release of the youngster). All of this is highly commendable, it is exemplary."

SBT, while Globo is not the sole medium, the sole employer, is not the sole Power, the Big Brother who yearns to be
the owner of the TV who will keep us under surveillance, until this day SBT will continue working and defeating, without
luxury and with modesty, defeating the Power, the Wealth and the Prepotency, today disguised as moralists.

SBT’s management

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