Politics takes over Brazil’s airwaves

A law which gives free air time to all the 18,880 candidates standing in the Brazilian presidential, congressional and state elections on Sunday, has resulted in all terrestrial TV channels transmitting almost two hours of political propaganda every day since last month.

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By  Marcus Webb Published  October 3, 2002

A law which gives free air time to all the 18,880 candidates standing in the Brazilian presidential, congressional and state elections on Sunday, has resulted in all terrestrial TV channels transmitting almost two hours of political propaganda every day since last month.

The large number of candidates has resulted in political programming in which the viewer is bombarded with dozens of politicians one after another, who often only have enough time to say their name. As a result candidates have adopted extreme measures to stand out from the crowd.

One candidate uses a lion to "liven up" his broadcast, whilst another brings along his donkey: "The violence is so bad round here that even my donkey got kidnapped," he tells the camera with the animal stood next to him. In one TV slot, Samuel Silva repeats his name non-stop for 30 seconds.

"Brazilian democracy has become a "tele-democracy"," Nelson de Sa, a columnist for the Folha de Sao Paulo, told the Guardian newspaper in the UK. "Our citizens are, on the whole, very uneducated, and one result of this is that most people get all their information from TV."

According to market research, 40 percent of homes watched the broadcasts in the first weeks. Since then the number has dropped to 25 percent.

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