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Brazil Gets Its Own BBC. Al Jazeera May Lend a Hand

Tereza Cruvinel Brazilian diversity on TV screens is one of the goals of TV Brasil, according to veteran journalist Tereza Cruvinel, the chairman of Brazil Communications Company (EBC), which manages TV Brasil. The channel is ready to go on the air on December 2.

“We are going to show Brazilian diversity in all senses, the differences between states, like cultural and social values of each regional universe, which make Brazil a country with such a varied and rich culture, one of our main attractions,” pointed out Cruvinel.


Established by a presidential decree, EBC will be based in the city of Rio de Janeiro and will have an office in Brazilian capital Brasília. Among the main objectives are contributions for the public debate of national and international themes, sponsorship to the establishment of citizenship and national audiovisual production, support to inclusion processes and socialization of production of knowledge and partnerships.


The initial social capital will be 200 million Brazilian reais (US$ 115 million) and the budget for 2008 should be 350 million reais (US$ 201 million).


Cruvinel, one of the most influential political journalists in the country, who worked recently for the daily O Globo and the cable channel GloboNews, talked about implementation of the project in an interview.


“I left journalism to manage TV Brasil as I believe in the project. I think I made a good contribution to political journalism in the country and, now, I plan to contribute to this important implementation,” she said.


To accomplish her plan, for example, EBC will have autonomy from the government to define production, programming and distribution of content. Autonomy will be guaranteed by the Curator Council which, as guaranteed by Tereza, “will not be make-believe”. It will even have power to fire her.


Tereza also spoke about her relations with the Arab world and about a possible future partnership with Al Jazeera. One of the reasons is the fact that Brazil houses the largest Arab colony on the planet. “The Al Jazeera outlook is currently a differential in the world,” she argued. The full interview follows.


Will TV Brasil be inspired on any management model? (The ones of state-owned television channels) TV Cultura and TVE, for example? Or will it follow a new model?


We try to focus on what is best in the national and foreign experience. TV Cultura and TVE also answer to a Council, but the TV Brasil one will have unique characteristics. It will not be ample like the one at Cultura, which has fixed and elected members, nor will it have a government majority, like the one at TVE. It will have 20 members, of which 15 will be representatives of the civil society.


How will civil society be represented in the council?


The councilors will not represent organizations, groups and organized movements. They will be individuals, of high representativeness, respectability, people with different professional training and from different regions of the country. It will include from MV Bill, a young, black artist to Boni, one of the most important professionals in Brazilian television.


TV Brasil is born from two existing structures: Radiobrás and TVE. How is this unification process taking place? How can two different structures be managed and united?


There are, naturally, difficulties. This will probably be one of the hardest parts, but we have found receptiveness in both companies. Radiobrás will be incorporated by EBC, the manager of TV Brasil, which, in turn, will sign a management contract with Acerp (Associação de Comunicação Educativa Roquette Pinto – Educational Communication Association Roquette Pinto), which runs TVE.


Is TV Brasil going to produce its own content or will it be through partnerships with regional public TV channels and producers?


Both. The program grid will include both programs produced by the channel and programs developed by other associates. But, initially, we are not going to have a new grid, but a mix of it all.


What will be the focus? Will the journalism be mainstream? Or will it be entertainment geared more to culture?


We will have good evening news, then a morning news program and another at midday, amid general programs geared more to culture, but with good language, good form, aesthetically attractive.


Is it possible to do attractive journalism, without being biased, at a public TV?


Perfectly. The government, when it decides to politically support the establishment of a public television, knows that it will have autonomy to work on its programs.


What will the TV Brasil program be like? Documentaries, movies? Will there be space for fiction, something in the line of series and soap operas?


In the future, surely, we will develop a drama line, but not for soap operas, which are products typical of commercial TV. Why not mini-series with historic background?


Will independent production be welcome?


Yes, our target is to occupy up to 40% with independent production.


Is TV Brasil going to be turned to the whole of the Brazilian population or is there a target audience?


The target is universal, but we know that initially the middle classes will be more aware of the birth of TV Brasil.


Brazilian television currently does not show the face of Brazil. Journalism, for example, shows very much what is happening in Rio, Brasília and São Paulo and practically ignores what happens in other states. Is TV Brasil going to tell Brazilians about the true Brazil? The same may be said about culture and education. How many good projects are there in these two areas in Brazilian states that are ignored by traditional media? Does TV Brasil intend to change this picture?


Yes, one of the TV Brasil targets is to show Brazilian diversity in all senses. Both what is happening in different states, like the cultural and social values of each regional universe, which make Brazil into a country of such rich and varied culture, one of our main attractions.


On October 4, the Brazilian government launched the More Culture Program, managed by the Ministry of Culture, in which the government, according to (Culture minister Gilberto) Gil, abandoned the practice of fragmentation and clientage in the area of culture and starts supplying a share of the population that was excluded until then. What will be the part played by TV Brasil for this ambitious cultural program to generate the expected results?


We will be partners in this new cultural policy. The documentaries of project DocTV, for example, are proof that there are cultural production products that are possible outside the Rio-São Paulo axis, and outside the glamorous circuit of professional cinema, video and TV. We are going to exhibit the production of DocTVs, we are going to promote what is done in culture points, for example.


Today, with the Internet, how will the TV Brasil marriage with the Web be? Are both medias going to ‘talk’, work together, one call the attention of viewers to the other, for example?


Yes, that is the tendency, for TV to enter the Web. EBC will have a news site, maintaining and expanding Agência Brasil. But TV Brasil will also move in the direction of its own Web TV.


TV Brasil will be almost exclusively financed by the federal government. Is that right?


Yes, we have a forecasted budget of 350 million (US$ 201 million) for 2008. And we are going to try to expand these resources through institutional publicity, donations, sponsorship, services and other possible legal means.


(Communications) Minister Franklin Martins said that ‘TV Brasil will neither be able to do government communication nor defend it’. How is it possible to make a TV financed by the union free and separate from government affairs?


The government will have its own communications channel, NBR. TV Brasil may show government campaigns, like other television channels, within its existing distribution channel. But it will not make government campaigns.


Wouldn’t a model television like the BBC, public, however financed directly by the population, be viable for Brazil?


In such an unequal country, charging a fee would not be possible. That is not to mention high taxes.


Today, due to the growth of trade relations between Brazil and the Arab countries, interest in the region is growing. Not just in the commercial aspect, but also due to the cultural question. Is it therefore possible, for example, for a partnership to be established between TV Brasil and Al Jazeera?


Why not? Al Jazeera is now a great producer of news and material symbolic of a region of the world in which western TV finds it hard to penetrate, or even to understand what goes on. The Al Jazeera outlook currently makes a difference in the world. We are interested in exchange with all the Brazilian partners, with the regions that are important for the country, like Africa and the Arab world, Latin America and also the public TV of the first world.


When will Brazilians be able to watch TV Brasil?


On December 2. We are going to promote an avant-première, so to speak. We are going to air a unified grid, joining TVE and TV Nacional programs, plus some material from state associates. The grid is being concluded.


Anba – www.anba.com.br

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