The World of Globo
Hegemony of limitless concentration
It is impossible to sustain an effective democracy without the plurality and diversity of voices. Unfortunately, our risk indicators for plurality in Brazilian media point towards a worrisome scenario: the elevated audience concentration and cross ownership of communication media are the most notable issues in this regard.
Despite the vast regional diversity in the country and the continental dimensions of its territory, the four main media groups concentrate an exorbitant national audience – over 70% in the case of free-to-air television, the most popular media in the country.
The strategies of some of the Brazilian media groups to migrate towards a multi-platform environment, by means of technological convergence, allowed them to even widen their market share. Many of them are reorganizing their production structures, reducing the workforce and increasing the workload of the remaining staff, for example of journalists to reach out to the audience through different types of media.
Cross ownership of different types of media such as television, print, radio and online is a central dimension of the Brazilian media concentration trend.
The crossing occurs, for example, with Grupo Record, which owns important open TV channels (RecordTV and RecordNews), print media titles (Correio do Povo newspaper) and internet outlets (R7 portal), in addition to belonging to the same controller as Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus (IURD – Universal Church of the Kingdom of God), which also owns Rede Aleluia radio network and produces the free newspaper of largest circulation in Brazil, Folha Universal. Another example is the regional group RBS, which has an affiliate of Globo on free TV, the news portal ClicRBS, two newspaper among those of greatest circulation – Zero Hora and Diário Gaúcho – besides other print titles and two important radio networks, national Gaúcha Sat and regional Atlântida.
But the winner in terms of cross ownership remains the dominant media group in the country: Grupo Globo.
Grupo Globo has outlets or networks central in all media markets. On free TV, they run Rede Globo, market leader by far; on pay-TV, they own the platform GloboSat, which produces and distributes content including the all-news channel GloboNews and thirty others – besides international partnerships with important studios; on the Internet, they own the largest Brazilian online news portal, Globo.com; on radio, two of their networks range among the ten most important in the country: Globo AM/FM and CBN; in print media they publish newspapers of great relevance such as O Globo, Extra, Valor Econômico and Expresso da Informação, and magazines like Época, Crescer, Galileu, Marie Claire and many others. They also own one of the main news agencies in the country, Agência O Globo (AOG). Grupo Globo also operates in the phonographic, movie and editorial markets.
By dominating so many markets, the group alone reaches an audience larger than the one of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th largest Brazilian groups combined. This fact is of such asignificance that Grupo Globo recently announced in a campaign that they reach 100 million Brazilians daily, around half of the national population. What might work for the group as commercial statement of reach, can be seen as an alarming scenario for media plurality.
After comparing our indicators of risk to media pluralism with the results of the other ten countries investigated so far by the Media Ownership Monitor project, Brazil shows the worst scenario. The absence of an efficient legal framework against monopoly and for the promotion of the plurality of voices in Brazilian media is a deficiency that entails serious consequences for the circulation of ideas, to diversity of opinion and to democracy.