Employees protest censorship after CEO of media state company was replaced by interim president in Brazil

Professionals of Brazil Communications Company (EBC) that manage the Brazilian public TV channels and radio participated in a ceremony on May 20th to denounce the alleged censorship that has being happening since the change of CEO of the company, defined by interim president Michel Temer. The information is on the website Rede Brasil Atual.

With the support of organizations such as the National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj) and Journalists and Broadcasters unions in Sao Paulo, the EBC employees gathered in a protest against the decision of firing the journalist Ricardo Melo, president of the company. They reported having being told, after the change in the position, not air the show of the singer Mano Brown while covering a cultural event in Sao Paulo. The artist had already expressed criticism of the interim government that replaced President Dilma Rousseff after the impeachment process.

"The role of public media outlets is to give voice to sectors that have no voice in private communication vehicles," explained Rita Freire, president of the Board of Trustees of Brazil Communications Company, to the website Jornalistas Livres. "The trustee board is waiting position of Justice, we are in an unusual situation of a removal questioned in the Supreme Court and an appointment officially published who is already in the company, managing, taking action. This situation has a very large impact on the lives of workers EBC", she said.

Ricardo Melo had been appointed by Dilma Rousseff on May 3rd and still had a mandate, established by law, of four years to meet it when he was dismissed and replaced by the journalist Laertes Rimoli, appointed by interim President Michel Temer. Rimoli worked at the office of Eduardo Cunha (PMDB-RJ) and designated to run the TV Camera.

The columnist of Folha de S. Paulo's newspaper, Monica Bergamo, stressed the difference between Rimoli's profile, who has held many public positions and is linked to political parties, and Melo's, who before assuming the EBC had a career in the private media through different outlets.

Melo considered his dismissal illegal and filed a complaint in the Supreme Court (STF) to reverse the act. According to Zero Hora newspaper, the law establishes a four-year mandate to the CEO of EBC, as not to coincide with the President of the Republic mandate, which would guarantee the independence of the public broadcasters. In an interview with columnist Monica Bergamo, the journalist's lawyer said that the decision is "inappropriate and arguably illegal."

A petition with hundreds of signatures articulated by the Front in Defense of the EBC and Public Communication was published on May 17th, demanding respect for the EBC law and the mandate of its president. In a statement, the group of entities states that "Law 11,652 brought important mechanisms, (...) essential for the company to respond to society, not to the parties or governments. Therefore, respect the legal principles that shall ensure the autonomy of the public company is a key principle for all who believe in democracy and diversity of voices."

The government of Michel Temer announced plans to change the rules of appointment of the president of Brazil Communications Company (EBC) to end the four-year term and reduce the power of the Board of Trustees. According to Estado de São Paulo, the interim government claims that EBC was being used for the benefit of the Workers Party and the company generates financial loss to the country's because the current administration refuses to streamline costs.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.