If It Is TV Brazil Why Most Brazilians Were Left Out?

Brazilian TV. Brazil's television stationThe launch of TV Brasil, Thursday, February 2, may provoke two lines of discussion, equally important.  One about the project itself, announced as instrument to “integrate South America”, another about the statements of the Nation’s President in declaring that the new channel was not an initiative of the government, but the State’s, Brazil’s.

President Lula exaggerated the simplification: the fact that the channel is shared by the three branches – TV Câmara (House) and TV Senado (Senate), of the Legislative, TV Justiça (Justice), of the Judiciary, and Radiobrás, of the Executive – does not mean that in it Brazil is represented. Two components – by no means neglectable – are missing: civil society and private initiative.

This vision of the State as representation of constituted powers is Manichean, archaic, and reactionary. A modern State is much more than a happy reunion of the three branch chiefs; most importantly, considering the object of this association – social communication – essentially participative and open.

The non-inclusion in the public TV network is not a mere memory lapse; it is a political option with disturbing implications. The disregard for private TV’s competence to participate in, say, “civic projects”, is a clear testament to their social dysfunctions.

If Brazil, as a sovereign State, appointed itself South America’s television “uniter”, it makes no sense that the process be conducted in absentia of the societies it hopes to unite.

And what does future hold for TV Brasil – the constituted powers of neighboring States and their viewers? In this case, why don’t Brazilian viewers and national TV content producers (public and private) participate in such project?

The question goes even further to the date chosen to formally launch the initiative. The President was unequivocal by saying that he intended to “honor” the House Speaker and the Senate President before they left their posts, the following Monday, February 14.

To honor is a verb sublimely political. To honor the leaders of both Congress chambers and not the institutions that they are leaving, more than anything, is a militant act.

The Brazilian State is non-partisan. Taxpayers pay for an apolitical State. Taxpayers primarily want to see their necessities met – foreign propaganda is not one of their priorities.

Statesman Artist

Which leads us to the issue of TV Brasil itself. Should the 8 million reais (approx. US$ 3 million) that will be invested this year, before the channel goes on the air, answer to our priorities in terms of public television?

Wouldn’t a supplemental investment on TV Educativa (a state run TV in structure, but effectively public in destination) be a more useful, solid, and a truly integrating option?

Radiobrás (also state run) is currently doing splendid works to bring the nation together, notably in the radio arena; wouldn’t it be more strategic to strengthen Radiobrás instead of wasting this sum to show the neighbors “our good stuff” (expression from Supreme Court Minister Carlos Veloso)?

Then, does that mean that private TV was excluded from the project because it doesn’t show “good things”? Who will issue the quality seal on TV Brasil’s programs – the representative, the senator, or the justice who will fill the chief post at each branch? What is his/her legitimacy in this area?

And if our electronic media does not meet the prerequisites capable of qualifying it to become a supporting actor in the project, for which reason doesn’t the Brazilian Government fulfill its constitutional obligations and demand better quality shows from TV concessionaires?

Proof goes to show once again the merit in the diagnosis from Brazil’s popular artist Chico Buarque, when he said that, missing in the government is someone in charge of turning on the warning red light and saying:  “This gonna turn out shit.”

The artist spoke as a statesman: the Brazilian State is being spent in vain.

Alberto Dines, the author, is a journalist, founder and researcher at LABJOR—Laboratório de Estudos Avançados em Jornalismo (Laboratory for Advanced Studies in Journalism) at UNICAMP (University of Campinas) and editor of the Observatório da Imprensa. You can reach him by email at obsimp@ig.com.br.

Translated from the Portuguese by Eduardo Assumpção de Queiroz. He is a freelance translator, with a degree in Business and almost 20 years of experience working in the fields of economics, communications, social and political sciences, and sports. He lives in São Paulo, Brazil. His email: eaqus@terra.com.br.

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