BRASILIA – The Ministry of Communications blocked the request for a radio and TV concession made by the Workers’ Party (PT) to the government. Juscelino Filho’s ministry understood that the acronym is not entitled to any of the grant modalities provided for by law. The argument is opposite to that defended by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s group.
The ministry vetoed the PT’s request on January 24th, around seven months after the request was presented to the ministry by the party’s president, deputy Gleisi Hoffmann (PR), and the party’s national secretary of Communication, deputy Jilmar Tattoo (SP).
The ministry treated the PT’s request as a request for “singular contours”, because no political party holds radio and TV concessions in the country. If the ministry granted the request, the president’s party would be the first to obtain a space of this nature in the national broadcasting system.
The decision published in the Official Gazette is signed by the director of the Private Broadcasting Department, Antonio Malva Neto, and by the substitute director of the Public Broadcasting Department, Alexandre Miranda Freire de Oliveira Barros.
When contacted by the report, Jilmar Tatto stated that he was unaware of the ministry’s arguments, but that he would appeal the decision. The Ministry of Communications stated that it rejected the request, “as Brazilian legislation does not allow political parties to have public concessions for television and radio channels”.
As shown by the Estadão, Malva Neto is linked to the group of senator Flávio Bolsonaro (PL-RJ). The director also worked in the department in favor of the interests of a former partner who owned a network of TV stations in Maranhão, the electoral base of minister Juscelino Filho.
Understand the arguments used in the veto of the PT
The ministry followed a technical opinion, which recommended rejection. According to the document, to which the Estadão had access, the department understood that the PT is not entitled to any of the existing types of grants – commercial, educational or community.
“It is suggested that the request presented by the Workers’ Party be rejected, based on the legislation applicable to broadcasting services”, stated the technicians.
The ministry’s understanding conflicts with the PT’s allegations. In the request filed with the Ministry of Communications, on June 6, 2023, the party states that “the concession of radio/TV telecommunications services to political parties does not meet with an express legislative obstacle” and that “such concession can comply with the principles that govern social communication described in article 221 of the Federal Constitution”.
Commercial radios and TVs, those authorized to explore advertising spaces, can be granted by the Ministry of Communications through bidding. According to the opinion, the Department of Private Broadcasting does not currently have “any bidding process with an open qualification period”. “It would therefore be impossible to grant the request”, stated the technical area.
In the ministry’s assessment, the PT would also not be able to obtain educational radio and TV channels. Brazilian legislation provides for “a list of legal entities that can provide the service”, and political parties are not among them.
The third option analyzed by the department was community radio channels. The party would not fit into this modality, as this type of service “can only be carried out by non-profit foundations and community associations”.
“It is expressly prohibited for the entity providing the Radcom service (community broadcasting) is subordinated or subject to the management, administration, dominance, command or guidance of any other entity, through political-party commitments or relationships”, pointed out the technical area of the ministry.
Decision frustrates plans to expand PT communication
The PT’s communication policy was reformulated as of 2020. Obtaining its own TV and radio spaces are part of the party’s communication expansion program, which includes social networks, online radio, party directory websites and PTSAT – satellite channel authorized by the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel), last year.
The idea is that communication is a tool to “form, inform and mobilize” militancy, wrote Jilmar Tatto in an article published last year, in a party magazine. The secretary defended that the PT has “the responsibility” to “fight for the development of democratic and plural communication in Brazil and promote a systematic narrative dispute against the extreme right”.
“It is necessary to defend and affirm democracy, the correct version of the facts and the public interest”, argued the communications secretary.
Lula’s party leadership informed the Ministry of Communications that it intends to use the future radio and TV channels for “accountability, political education, dissemination of proposals and encouragement of political participation”. Gleisi and Tatto stated, in a request sent to minister Juscelino Filho, that “communication through a specific party channel would enable the fair provision of information”.
“All citizens will be able to follow the main news and information about party activity, monitoring, participating and becoming more active in public life”, explained the PT.
In the acronym’s assessment, free party propaganda on radio and television “deserves to be complemented with radio and TV communication channels”. A dedicated space, claimed the acronym, “would make it possible to deepen complex debates and promote more complete and effective political education for Brazilian citizens who are interested”.
The PT’s objective was to obtain the concession of vacant channels, those available in the Brazilian broadcasting system, for new communication groups. A survey by the party, in June last year, showed that there were 49, in different states of the country.
Without TV and radio channels so far, the PT has been working on the party’s content on the satellite channel – launched in August last year. At the time, Jilmar Tatto stated on the party’s website that the program would include a daily newspaper, broadcasts of Lula’s speeches, documentaries and political training content.
This is another type of technology. Instead of programming being transmitted via radio frequency spectrum, as in the case of channels granted in grants by the Union, the transmission of programming via satellite has processes considered simpler and cheaper.
Jilmar Tatto estimates that the PTSAT audience could reach 3 million families. To the Estadãothis Friday, the PT’s Communication Secretary said that the satellite channel “is doing very well”.
In a statement, the Ministry of Communications stated that it rejected the request, “as Brazilian legislation does not allow political parties to have public concessions for television and radio channels”.
“Opinion 459/2023 of the Legal Consultancy (Conjur) – a technical body linked to the Attorney General’s Office (AGU) – attests that the acronyms are not among the legal entities under public and private law that are authorized to provide private broadcasting services ”, recorded the folder. “The Ministry further clarifies that there was no type of political pressure and that the decision was strictly technical, based on the criteria of current legislation.”