Report calls Brazil the “the country of thirty Berlusconis”
31 Jan 13

A report issued by world-wide non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders denounced Brazil’s ever-worsening landscape for journalists — citing violence and legal harassment against media professionals, as well as the heavy concentration of media outlets owned by a small number of companies as the country’s main obstacles to becoming a fair place for working in journalism.

The report is based on fact-finding visits to the two biggest cities in the country — São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro — plus capital Brasília in November 2012.

This year, Brazil came in 108th place in the organisation’s 179-country Press Freedom Index —- a nine position plummet from last year’s ranking due mostly to violence against journalists during 2012’ mayoral election campaign. Brazil had already being down 41 positions on the previous ranking

Reporters Without Borders also said Brazil’s media landscape as dominated by roughly ten companies, most of them holding a strong dependence on the financial power of the public sector.

“Press and broadcast media’s editorial independence is undermined by heavy dependence on advertising by the government and its agencies,” states the report.

Another issue cited by the report was the high number of lawsuits targeting censorship against media outlets — one example being the newspaper O. Estado de S.Paulo, which has been prevented by a court ruling of publishing news about a police operation that could incriminate the son of a former President.

The report also referenced the 2012 electoral period, in which Google was ordered to remove or alter the content of over 300 websites.

“It’s hard to think that preventive censorship could be able to contain the flow of news and information on the internet. Even so, Brazilian courts have targeted online information”, said the organisation.

The report also suggested that balance could be brought to the country’s media landscape through passing new bills to reduce the high concentration of media ownership and restricting government advertising.

By Rafael Spuldar

Rafael Spuldar is a freelance writer based in Brazil.