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Television in Brazil has grown significantly since the first broadcasts in 1950, becoming one of largest and most productive commercial television systems in the world. Its biggest network, Rede Globo, is the second largest commercial network in the world, and is one of the largest television exporters around the world, particularly of telenovelas, which have become popular in many countries.
The first test broadcasts in Brazil were for the 1950 World Cup, which the country hosted. Television was formally introduced on September 18 in that same year, with the launch of the now-defunct TV Tupi by media mogul Assis Chateaubriand. It was the first Lusophone or Portuguese-speaking country to introduce television, even before the home country of the language Portugal with RTP (1955). It was also the fourth nation in the world to have a television station with daily broadcasts, behind the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.  The first image to appear in TV Tupi was that of five-year-old Sônia Maria Dorce, who, dressed up as a Native Brazilian, said: "Good evening. You are in the open TV channel of Brazil". The symbol of Tupi was that of a Native Brazilian kid.
In the 1950s, Brazilian television was marked by informality, since there were no trained professionals in the country with any experience in this media field. Another characteristic of television productions of this early period was live impromptu, as there was no videotape. The high costs of TV sets, which were imported, restricted the access of the media to the urban elites of major cities. Technical resources were primary, offering broadcasters just enough to keep the stations on the air. It was during that period that TV news and telenovelas were established.
The advent of videotape around 1960 brought imported programs to Brazilian television. As a typical characteristic of countries developing their television systems, imported shows dominated the programming for much of the decade, but their presence also stimulated some efforts at creating local networks. TV Tupi soon faced strong competition from TV Excelsior.
Television became a mass medium in Brazil earlier than in most developing countries. The military dictatorship which took power in 1964 saw audiovisual communication as a tool for creating a stronger national identity, a broader consumer economy, and controlling political information. The military pushed television deeper into the population by subsidizing credit for set sales, building national microwave and satellite distribution systems, which prompted the growth of Rede Globo, which they chose as a privileged partner. TV Excelsior, an opponent of the regime, on the other hand, was forced to close after losing government advertisement.
Globo, launched a few months after the 1964 coup, created the first true national network by the late 1960s. Censorship of news was extensive under the military governments between 1966 and 1978, but it also encouraged national television program production. In the early 1970s, several government ministers pushed the commercial networks to develop more Brazilian programming and reduce reliance on imported programs, particularly those with violent and sexual content. While Globo adopted an international model for operations, 90 percent of its content was produced in Brazil.
The 1960s represented a formative period for television development. Telenovelas had largely been patterned after those in other Latin American countries, even using imported scripts, but during that decade they were developed into a considerably more sophisticated genre, specifically after the airing of Beto Rockfeller, a well-produced story about a Rio de Janeiro good-lifer, in 1968 by Tupi. By the 1970s, telenovelas were the most popular programs and dominated prime time on the major networks, Globo and Tupi. Globo, in particular, began to attract major writers and actors from both film and theater to work in its telenovelas. The Brazilian telenovelas became good enough, as commercial television entertainment, to be exported throughout Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. Brazilian exports reached over a hundred countries and the programs have often proved to be great international hits. This is particularly the case with historical telenovelas such as Escrava Isaura.
Another major genre of the 1960s was show de auditório, a live variety show mixing games, quizzes, amateur and professional entertainers, comedy, and discussion. The shows de auditório have been extremely popular with the lower and middle classes, and, according to analysts such as Sérgio Miceli, played an extremely important role in drawing them into television viewing.
From early 1970s to late 1980s, Globo dominated both the audience and the development of television programming. It had a 60-80% share in major cities at any given time. As television researcher Joseph Straubhaar declared, "even people who might have had questions about the news almost always accepted the Globo novelas". During this period, Globo was accused of being the mouthpiece of the dictatorship, mainly because of its omission in covering the Diretas Já movement, in which thousands of Brazilians gathered on public squares to demand a direct election for President. In 1980, Tupi went bankrupt and was closed by the military government. Its signal was split and given to Silvio Santos, who launched SBT, and Adolpho Bloch, who launched Rede Manchete. Since Tupi's disappearance, Globo virtually dominated the market alone. The only time its leadership was threatened was when Manchete aired Pantanal in 1990. Nevertheless, Manchete never achieved the same success with any other of its telenovelas, and would have the same fate of Tupi, ceasing its operations on May 1999, and having its signal replaced by that of RedeTV!.
With Globo dominating the ratings, other broadcast television networks found themselves pursuing smaller, more specific audience segments largely defined by social class. SBT targeted lower middle class, working class and poor audiences, mostly with variety and game shows, in addition to soaps imported from Mexico's Televisa. This strategy gained it a consistent second place in ratings for most of the 1980s and 1990s. On the other hand, Manchete initially targeted a more elite audience, with news, high budget telenovelas, and imported programs, but found the segment too small to gain an adequate advertiser support. Bandeirantes tended to emphasize news, public affairs and sports. All three ultimately wished to pursue a general audience with general appeal programming, such as telenovelas, but discovered that such efforts would not generate an audience sufficient to pay for the increased programming costs.
In 1984, Globo initially supported the military government against Diretas Já, a popular campaign for the direct election of a civilian government, while other television networks, most notably Manchete, supported the change. Perceiving that it might literally lose its audience to competitors, Globo switched sides and supported the transition to a civilian regime, which was indirectly elected in a compromise situation. The new political circumstances immediately reduced political censorship and pressure on broadcasters.
In the 1990s, UHF television channels were launched, such as music oriented MTV Brasil, and the Catholic channel Rede Vida. Also during that period, TV Cultura and Rede Record, both based in São Paulo, began to air their signal in national broadcasting systems.
The 2000s saw the decline of television audience in the country, as internet access grew rapidly. The daily average of TV sets turned on dropped from 65% in 1982–1991 to 42% in 2008. In the decade, the top five TV networks in the country lost altogether 4.3% of their share. SBT lost 44% of its viewership in the prime time, while Globo lost 9%. The biggest decline for Globo were in its showcase telenovelas, aired at 9 p.m., which reachead an all-time low during the decade. The network's latest telenovela in the time slot, Viver a Vida, scored the lowest ratings of the past ten years. According to Renata Pallottin, a professor at University of São Paulo's Art and Communication School, this happens because recent telenovelas, which has the same basic story sketches since the 1970s, has proven to be unappealing to younger audiences, who watch American television series on cable TV or surf the web instead. As such, telenovelas audience grew significantly older and richer in the past decade.
|2000–2001||Laços de Família||44.9%||-|
|2001||Porto dos Milagres||44.6%||-0.3%|
|2004–2005||Senhora do Destino||50.4%||+4.4%|
|2006–2007||Páginas da Vida||46.8%||-1.7%|
|2009||Caminho das Índias||38.8%||-0.7%|
|2009–2010||Viver a Vida||35.8%||-3.0%|
(*) 1% comprises approximately 62,000 households in the Greater São Paulo area.
While other TV networks face the lack of interest among viewers, one TV network weathered the decline fairly unscathed: Rede Record. In fact, the network rose its audience by 123% in the decade, partially due to investments of over US$ 150 million per year. Although Globo maintains more than the double of Record's average ratings, the latter has been able to surpass Globo's audience on specific time slots, such as Sundays, and mornings. In some state capitals, such as Goiânia, Fortaleza, and Belém, for instance, Record's Domingo Espetacular already surpasses the audience of Globo's Fantástico. Globo also faces a decrease of its audience in Rio de Janeiro, where the network is headquartered. On December 11, 2009, Record surpassed the audience of Globo in Rio during the broadcast of The Elite Squad. Almost a year later, on December 2, 2010, Globo came on an unprecedented third place in the Greater Rio ratings in the 11 p.m.–12 a.m. time slot. On a previous occasion, Record came first in the area's ratings from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. on September 8, 2010.
A recent research conducted by Deloitte showed that surfing the web has surpassed watching TV as the entertainment activity preferred by most Brazilians. Other forms of entertainment, such as watching DVDs, and viewing cable TV have also increased their popularity significantly. From 2000 to 2010, the number of households with access to cable TV increased 152%, while the DVD market saw an expansion of 430% in the same period. The number of TV sets not turned on in any of the free-to-air channels—which indicates that they are being used for watching DVD or cable TV or playing videogames, also increased from 3.5% to 6.7% of the share in the decade. On 2010 it further increased to 7.7% of the share, surpassing the audience of Record. Cable TV accounted for 4.5% of this, while the remaining 3.2% accounted for watching DVD and/or playing videogames.
Cable television services in Brazil were allowed to start business in 1995, according to federal law 8977/95. Since then, there were no major advances in terms of access to the technology. Brazil has one of the lowest number of households with access to cable television, as a result of the combination of high prices charged by providers and the reduced purchasing power of most Brazilians. Cable television in Brazil, as of 2010, was available to only 10 million households (around 30 million viewers, which represents less than 20% of the country's population). Most of the users are from the upper class (70%). While the lower class represents 50% of the country's households, only 1% of them have access to cable television.
The cable television market used to be almost monopolized by satellite TV provider SKY Brasil and cable TV provider NET, both of them partially owned by Organizações Globo. However, in 2010, Globo sold 19% of its shares in SKY to the DirecTV Group, making Globo owner of only 7% of SKY shares. In the same year, Embratel made an offer to buy all of Globo's shares in NET for R$ 4.58 billion, even though Embratel has to wait the approval of Bill N° 119, that will allow companies from countries other than Brazil to own cable operations. Since 2006, large national and international phone operators, such as Embratel, Telefónica, and Oi, began to enter the market. Due to cable regulations, telephone companies are using DTH rather than IPTV to launch their TV operations. In 2010's third trimestrer, the market share of cable companies was: NET with 44,8%, SKY with 25,7%, Via Embratel with 9,8%, Telefónica TV Digital with 5,1%, OiTV with 3,1%, Abril (TVA) with 1,8% and smaller companies with 9,6% of the market.
The SBTVD standard (based on ISDB-T) was adopted and launched in 2 December 2007. In 2007, only greater São Paulo metropolitan area can receive the signal. SBTVD broadcasts started in Belo Horizonte in the beginning of March 2008 and late May 2008 in Rio de Janeiro. Government estimated 7 years for complete signal expansion for all over the territory. The analog television is originally set to be shut down for hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics, but now, the analog television broadcast will be phased out in 2018, with analog television broadcast will be phased out in phases from 2015.
The interactive platform called Ginga consists entirely on free software and received highly publicity being considered the main appeal for the change. The government promised WiMAX as return channel for the system, set to be implanted in the next years.
In Brazil all 5 major TV networks (Rede Bandeirantes, Rede Globo, Rede Record, RedeTV! and SBT) and the public televisions (TV Cultura, TV Brasil) started to broadcast HDTV 1080i in December 2007. Brazil uses an upgraded version of the Japanese ISDB-T, which uses H.264/MPEG-4 AVC for video compression and HE-AAC for audio compression. 1seg broadcasts use the same standard as in Japan, except for the frame rate: 15FPS in Japan and 30FPS in Brazil. Other features are the same, including codec, modulation and interactive features. Hardware can be shared between both countries, with only firmware updates to address the encoding difference.
The new broadcasting method brought up the need to create a new form to measure the audience levels. In order to do this, the biggest research institute in Brazil IBOPE decided to use the DIB 6 tool. It is a new version of the measuring device DIB 4, used to measure analog television results with the People meter. According to Ibope, this technology allows a better understanding of the viewer’s preferences not only concerning television, but also computer and mobile phones.
|#1||Rede Globo||Roberto Marinho||Roberto Irineu Marinho||Membership Chairman|
|#2||Rede Record||Paulo Machado de Carvalho||Edir Macedo||Edir Macedo 90% and Ester Bezerra 10%|
|#3||SBT||Silvio Santos||Silvio Santos|
|#4||BAND||João Jorge Saad||Johnny Saad||1999-present|
|#5||RedeTV!||Amilcare Dallevo and Marcelo de Carvalho||Amilcare Dallevo and Marcelo de Carvalho||50% each|
|#6||TV Cultura||Assis Chateaubriand||Marcos Mendonça||Belongs to Fundação Padre Anchieta. Owner Government of the State of São Paulo|
|#7||Rede Gazeta||Emílio Garrastazu Médici||Fundação Cásper Líbero|
|#8||MTV Brasil||Viacom International Media Networks||Viacom International Media Networks||For 20 years, was commanded by Grupo Abril|
|#9||Record News||Edir Macedo||Luiz Claudio Costa|
The main paid television providers are NET (cable television), SKY (satellite television), Claro TV (satellite television), VIVO TV (cable television), Oi TV (satellite television) and GVT TV (IPTV/satellite television).
As referenced by journalist Eugênio Bucci, the problem of "audiovisual media ownership concentration is relatively sharper" in Brazil when compared to the United States. According to the study Donos da Mídia (English: Media owners), Rede Globo alone controls 340 television stations, more than SBT and Rede Record combined together. This is largely attributed to the fact that television in the country was launched in the early 1950s by the private sector, without much state regulation and control — in a manner very similar to the system of for-profit, private networks of American TV and away from the state-owned, public TV stations in Europe and in the Communist bloc. The first national public television network, TV Brasil, was only launched on December 2, 2007 (before that, since the 1960s there were local public-educative TV stations controlled by the state’s governments), the same day that digital television was introduced in the country, initially limited to the cities of Brasília, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, São Luís and São Paulo.
Intellectuals and journalists in Brazil, mainly in the left of the political spectrum, criticize Brazilian TV as being too much Americanized and promoter of irrational, superficial consumerism and of having a general right-wing, conservative bias, neglecting representation and respect in relation to traditionally oppressed classes and peoples like the Afro-Brazilian peoples and religion, Native Brazilians, poor women, favela inhabitants, atheists, peasants and LGBT people.
Viewing shares, 1-14 October 2013:
|Position||Channel||Group||Share of total viewing (%)|
|1||Rede Globo||Organizações Globo||36.0%|
|2||SBT||Grupo Silvio Santos||13.6%|
|3||Rede Record||Central Record de Comunicação||13.0%|
|4||Rede Bandeirantes||Grupo Bandeirantes de Comunicação||6.1%|
|5||TV Cultura||Padre Anchieta Foundation||3.3%|
|7||Rede Gazeta||Fundação Cásper Líbero||1.3%|
|authorlink=value (help) (2008). TV digital no Brasil: tecnologia versus política. Sao Paulo, Brazil: Editora Senac. p. 39. ISBN 978-85-7359-755-4.