The Show of the Year

The Show of the Year

    Casa dos Artistas became a fever, with 20 million people
    watching it daily. The 9-pm spectacle went
    to peaks
    of 43 points in the Ibope, the Brazilian Nielsen.
    Globo Network, which for 28 years has led
    the Sunday
    with the prime-time program Fantástico, ran for cover.


    Alessandra Dalevi

    With opportunism, little scruple and a recipe that has drawn TV audiences around the world, SBT (Sistema Brasileiro
    de Televisão—Brazilian System of Television) has consistently beaten Globo—a TV network that with opportunism and
    little scruple has maintained a far-ahead first place for decades—in the Brazilian TV’s audience war. The answer to the
    almost uncontested Globo’s leadership is Casa dos
    Artistas (Artists’ Home), a term that until now meant a retirement home for
    older artists who in their old age were having serious financial problems.

    Casa dos Artistas is based on "Big Brother," a creation from the Dutch TV. Aired originally in Holland in 1999 the
    idea was sold to 33 countries. In Britain, "Big Brother" was a hit in the summer of 2000. The show with a group of unknowns
    locked inside a house without any contact with the outside world was the talk of the country, and its final episode was seen by
    10 million people. In the US the idea was less successful. CBS paid $20 million and used 28 cameras (including in the
    bathroom) and 60 microphones to capture for three months the life of 10 people confined in a wired house built in San Fernando
    Valley, in Greater Los Angeles. They all had to fit in two bedrooms. Every two weeks two people were eliminated by votes from
    their peers and the TV audience, the last one got a reward of half a million dollars. The show that started with a 27 share
    (almost one third of all TV sets turned on that night) in the Nielsen ratings soon fell to a 10 share (less than 10% of the TV viewers.

    Silvio Santos, a folkloric figure and former street vendor who owns and controls SBC as a small town coffee shop,
    enjoyed all the success without paying a dime to the Dutch and chose for housemates a group of semi-celebrities of Brazilian TV,
    fashion and music world. The detention would last 50 days. The prize for the last survivor: around $100 thousand. The airing of
    the program was maintained a secret until Sunday, October 28, when SBT started to air promos of the show.

    The show became a fever, with 20 million people watching it daily.
    Veja (1.3 million copies), Brazil’s most influential
    weekly newsmagazine, dedicated a cover to the program. The 9-pm spectacle went to peaks of 43 points in the Ibope, the
    Brazilian Nielsen. Globo, which for 28 years has led the Sunday with the prime-time program Fantástico, ran for cover while rocker
    Supla one of the guest in the Casa dos
    Artistas sang with his 11 companions of captivity:

    Mais um dia aqui
    sem poder sair
    dentro desta prisão
    Silvio Santos vem aí
    com muito Ibope ele vai sorrir

    Another day here
    Not being allowed to leave
    Inside this prison
    Silvio Santos is coming
    With lots of Ibope he’ll smile

    Globo went to court to prevent the program from being aired. After all, it had a good reason for that: the giant
    network—the 4th biggest in the world, just after the American three sisters—had bought, in August, the rights to exhibit the show
    in Brazil. The show is scheduled for March 2002.

    For some time, the Rio network seemed to have the upper hand. A judge accepted the argument of Globo that
    Casa dos Artistas was a breach of copyright and ordered SBT to stop airing the show. The measure, though, was annulled by
    another judge, and the show went on.

    Thomas Notermas, spokesman for Endemol, the Dutch company that created Big Brother, says that he deals with
    piracy of their shows all the time, but nothing has ever come close to SBT’s plagiarism: "This is the most scandalous infraction
    I’ve ever seen."

    Luis Erlangeer, director of Central Globo de Comunicação, called the SBT action an act of piracy: "This must seem
    like just another skirmish to the audience, but it’s something much more serious. It’s a question of knowing if intellectual
    property is something that will be respected in Brazil."

    The fancy living room was the favorite place for the participants to show off most of the time in skimpy clothes.
    Silvio Santos used a neighbor’s house, in the Morumbi neighborhood in which he lives, to be adapted to serve as the stage
    for his show. The participants had to make do with two bedrooms, one bathroom and a kitchen.

    Differently from the European model, SBT chose people well known from the Brazilian public. People like models
    Alessandra Iscatena, Mari Alexandre, Núbia Ólive and Nana Gouveia, actress Bárbara Paz, singer Patrícia Coelho, singers Supla
    (rocker and son of São Paulo’s mayor Marta Suplicy) and Leandro Lehart, plus actors Alexandre Frota, Matheus Carrieri,
    Taiguara Nazareth and Marcos Mastronelli. Two of the girls showed it all in Playboy, two of the boys also appeared naked in magazines.

    Forty microphones and 33 cameras were installed, most of them behind mirrors in a way that the cameramen could
    not be seen by the artists. More than a simple dispute the war between the number one and far-behind number two showed the degree of
    distrust and the bad blood between the two competitors.

    In its official announcement Globo accused Santos’s network of piracy reclaiming higher moral ground. "The
    Brazilian entertainment industry can only grow if it’s based on respect for the law and moral principles." To which SBT replied
    also in an official note: "The Brazilian entertainment industry can only grow if TV Globo will let it."

    Globo’s official note:

    "A country that does not respect the intellectual right will never be developed. The Brazilian entertainment industry
    can only grow if it’s based on respect for the law and moral principles.

    Frequently our images are used without authorization—disrespecting and preventing artists and technicians to
    receive credit for their work. Once again we are victims of piracy: SBT presents a show that’s nothing more than a sensationalist
    plagiarism of Big Brother, a world famous attraction, whose rights were acquired by us in August, as is common knowledge.

    Our indignation is even bigger because at the time that the Brazilian society yearns for ethics, this type of behavior
    is an example of disregard for one of the most elementary values—the one that
    one’s rights end where another’s
    rights begin. We have no other remedy but to appeal to the Justice, which, we should mention, has just voted in our favor in another
    action against the same TV, which was fined and forbidden to air a plagiarism of our program
    Gente Inocente (Innocent People)."

    Central Globo de Comunicação.

    SBT’s official response:

    "The Brazilian entertainment industry can only grow if TV Globo will let it. Globo Network commemorates the first
    defeat of its show Fantástico threatening to sue SBT for plagiarism of a program not shown. Not satisfied with defeating Globo
    TV’s audience index all through Sunday, SBT had the imprudence of, for the first time defeat the
    Fantástico, without asking for the due forgiveness to this pillar of morality and correction that is Globo TV.

    In truth, SBT on Sunday lost only to Corinthians (popular soccer team), one of the hired hands of Globo, which
    was not playing as expected, but ended up playing a great match. To top it all, Saturday, battling against SBT’s
    novela, the
    Jornal Nacional (prime-time new program) hit a new mark in its downhill trajectory, going down to 31 percent, a new experience.
    All of this without mentioning Xuxa, Faustão and other innocent people, all of them deserving of our esteem and respect,
    but who are routinely defeated on Sunday afternoons.

    For all of this it is fair that Globo sue us, even though it is for plagiarism of a program that hasn’t even been
    produced. It will be plagiarism by guess, by premonition. Globo is right when it says it is a victim of SBT and its illegal practices. After all, due to the fierce, immoral and illegal persecution of which it is a victim, Globo TV has been reduced to a
    mere National TV Network, plus a National Radio Network, plus half a dozen newspapers that haven’t allowed it yet to
    eliminate the competition, including a new newspaper in São Paulo that, as we all know, didn’t have a newspaper with the high
    ethical and moral principles of the current Diário de São

    Not to talk about the companies and entrepreneurs affiliated with the company, each one less powerful than the
    other, not having, as a rule, more than the leading newspaper in each state. This is so true that they only own a sole company of
    Television by Satellite, distributing mere 60 channels, and a few
    other cable TVs with the same number of channels.

    Also in the editorial area, Globo has not surpassed a couple of dozen titles and it wasn’t able either, until today, to
    eliminate other recording companies with its Som Livre. Let make if brief: so much is the persecution moved against the company
    by the insatiable SBT that Globo was able to secure exclusivity only for the whole Brazilian football and the next two World
    Cups. All of this without places to present their ads, without resources for a more aggressive marketing, causing them
    enormous losses and offering gifts for those who subscribe to their titles, modest that’s true, only TV sets or plane tickets to any
    place in Brazil.

    Globo is right when it says in its note that "the Brazilian entertainment industry can only grow if it’s based (sic) on
    the respect for the law and moral principles" and that "society yearns for ethics."

    This is true. As we know, it is highly moral and ethical to pay fines and assume the judicial cases of author under
    contract, so that SBT cannot use a sole writer; it is extremely ethical to buy events to not show them; to suborn people under
    contract only to mess up the competition; as we know, it’s extremely ethical to sell newspaper at the cost of desperate parents
    and kidnapped daughter (a reference to the covering Globo gave to the kidnapping of Silvio Santos’s young daughter earlier
    this year even though the tycoon had asked media outlets to not divulge news while negotiations were going on for the
    release of the youngster). All of this is highly commendable, it is exemplary."

    SBT, while Globo is not the sole medium, the sole employer, is not the sole Power, the Big Brother who yearns to be
    the owner of the TV who will keep us under surveillance, until this day SBT will continue working and defeating, without
    luxury and with modesty, defeating the Power, the Wealth and the Prepotency, today disguised as moralists.

    SBT’s management

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