Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Very Bad Radio Hour

Evening drive in Brazil. Bloomberg (07.05.06):
"At 7 p.m. every weekday, disc jockey Fabio Professor halts his top-15 pop-music show on Radio Transamerica and cedes control of his broadcast to Brazil's federal government. For the next hour, officials pipe 'Voice of Brazil' through Transamerica -- and through almost all the other 3,668 radio stations in the country -- feeding listeners the government version of political and economic news." `Voice of Brazil' Plays On, a Holdover From 1930s Dictatorship
"Seven decades after dictator Getulio Vargas created the program to stir up nationalism and buoy support for his fledgling regime, radio stations still are required by law to broadcast it." Many stations have sued the Brazilian government asking to be released from having to broadcast the show claiming that the requirement violates various freedom of speech clauses of the Brazilian constitution. The real reason? The thing is such a drag to listen to, everyone dials out when it comes on. "The share of Brazilians over the age of 10 listening to radio tumbles to 11 percent during 'Voice of Brazil,' the lowest level of the day". And that translates directly into lost advertising revenue. The stations say that they're losing the equivalent of $112 million a year because of it. The show sounds like a real humdinger. "Officials at Radiobras announce the beginning of the show by blaring a theme from 'O Guarani,' an opera written in 1870 by Brazilian composer Carlos Gomes. The news that follows is mostly a chronicle of the daily activities of [Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva], his cabinet and the congress." "'Nobody in a sane state of mind listens to the program,' Antonio Rosa Neto, head of the Group of Radio Professionals, said in an interview from Rio de Janeiro." And Vargas, the guy who started it all? He "shot himself in the chest on August 24, 1954 in the [Brazil's presidential palace], in order to avoid a coup d'etat."


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