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As Rio opens, Temer closes in on public broadcaster

Logo of the Empresa Brasileira de Comunicação (EBC)
Logo of the Empresa Brasileira de Comunicação (EBC)

Wikimedia Commons

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 4 August 2016.

On the eve of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), is calling on reporters to also cover the political games being played behind the scenes, which threaten the country's public broadcasting system.

Together with its regional representative FEPALC and the Brazilian affiliate FENAJ, the IFJ is encouraging foreign journalists to highlight attempts by the interim government to dismantle the Empresa Brasileira de Comunicação (EBC), the national public broadcasting service. The IFJ has also written to Unesco to urge them to act to defend and promote media democracy in Brazil.

Since Vice-President Michel Temer took over as Brazil's acting president after President Dilma Rousseff's suspension for impeachment proceedings, a series of disruptive changes have been imposed on the EBC.

This interference reached a peak in May with the replacement of EBC's Chief Executive Ricardo Melo, the abrupt lay-off of dozens of journalists who were considered critical of the interim government and the cancellation of several TV programmes.

The interim government continues to put pressure on the EBC and has announced its plans to close it down or at least to alter its mission, just after the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It also revealed its intention to dismantle the Board of Trustees, which ensures the EBC's independence from private and political interests.

IFJ President Philippe Leruth said: “These measures constitute an unbearable political game which violate the law and pose additional threats to freedom of press and expression in Brazil. They jeopardise the jobs of 2,400 employees — including 1,000 journalists — working at the EBC's different entities across the country.”

The UN and the OAS also described these interferences as “negative steps”.

The IFJ, FEPALC and FENAJ, together with the Front in Defense of the EBC, urge foreign journalists covering the Olympic Games to speak out about these attacks on the public media broadcasting service and the dangers posed by Brazil's increasingly concentrated media industry, one of the greatest barriers to real democracy.

The EBC was established in 2008, inspired by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). It provides free-of-charge quality information for different media platforms. It operates in a landscape of a concentrated media industry where the big private corporations are backing an ongoing coup d'état.

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