Brazil’s TV and radio political ads start today. Here’s what you need to know

. Aug 31, 2018
tv airtime brazil 2018 election political ads Political ads start running today

Unless you have been engaged in political brawls on social media, it would be fair to say that the start of Brazil’s 2018 election campaign has gone fairly unnoticed. Brazilians are uninterested in politics and have lost faith in democratic institutions. Depending on who’s on the presidential ballot, almost 20 percent of voters would be willing to spoil their votes rather than choosing a candidate. But now, the campaign is about to step up a gear.

Until October 4 (three days before Election Day), candidates will broadcast their political advertisements on television and radio. From Monday through Saturday, 25 minutes per day will be divided between the parties in order to get their message out there. Plus, for a total of 70 minutes per day, candidates will appear in 30-second commercials airing between 5 am and midnight.

These political ads are under strict regulation by the Superior Electoral Court – and we break down everything you need to know about this crucial campaigning tool:

</span></p> <h2>Airtime</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Unlike the U.S., where campaigns must buy their own ad time on television or radio &#8211; or France, where all candidates are given an equal amount of time for their political broadcasts &#8211; in Brazil, candidates have the right to free airtime, but it is distributed between all parties, in proportion with the number of seats the party holds in the lower house.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">No presidential hopeful will appear more often than Social Democracy Party candidate Geraldo Alckmin. His nine-party coalition (&#8220;the biggest in the Western hemisphere,&#8221; according to one of his allies) has given him a massive 44 percent of the airtime allocated to parties. Mr. Alckmin has had a conservative approach to his campaign strategy, relying on traditional politics and hoping to improve his paltry poll numbers as a result of his increased exposure.</span></p> <hr /> <p><img loading="lazy" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-8155" src="" alt="tv airtime brazil 2018 election political ads" width="1024" height="683" srcset=" 1024w, 300w, 768w, 610w, 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <h2>TV/radio <em>v.</em> social media</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With the exception of 1989, presidents-elect have always been among the two candidates with the most airtime on television and radio. Previous elections, however, were not held during the social media era. Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro is polling at roughly 20 percent despite belonging to a dwarf party. His entire candidacy is based on <a href="">social media</a> engagement and on a legion of loyal supporters.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><iframe src=";color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=true&amp;show_comments=false&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="300" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But depending solely on social media might not be enough. It certainly helps Mr. Bolsonaro among better-educated, richer voters &#8211; with easier access to high-speed internet. However, in the North and especially in the </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">Northeast</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, traditional media remains very important indeed. The far-right candidate will be targeted by Mr. Alckmin&#8217;s political ads, which will attempt to deconstruct Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s proposals and arguments in a bid to take votes from him. And this strategy has already started.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mr. Alckmin&#8217;s campaign just released a video against gun violence (Mr. Bolsonaro says he wants &#8220;every Brazilian to have a gun&#8221;). Copied from a British ad used in the 2007 &#8220;Guns kill: Kill guns&#8221; campaign (Mr. Alckmin&#8217;s marketers called it a &#8220;remake&#8221;), it shows a bullet smashing a glass of milk, books, fruit &#8211; before stopping in front of a child&#8217;s head with the message: &#8220;Bullets are not the solution.&#8221; </span></p> <p><span class="embed-youtube" style="text-align:center; display: block;"><iframe class='youtube-player' width='1200' height='675' src=';rel=1&#038;fs=1&#038;autohide=2&#038;showsearch=0&#038;showinfo=1&#038;iv_load_policy=1&#038;wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'></iframe></span></p> <h2>Dos and don&#8217;ts</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Don&#8217;t expect the aggressive videos you are used to from American campaigns. Candidates are not allowed to &#8220;denigrate or ridicule&#8221; an adversary. Transgressions could be punished with the suspension of a campaign&#8217;s political ads. Campaigns who broadcast lies about another candidate can also be forced to give some of its airtime to the victim of the falsehoods. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If candidates want to show poll results on their political ads, they must also mention the poll&#8217;s margin of error and the dates when interviews were conducted. Misleading presentation of data can be punished by electoral authorities.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Besides these interdictions, candidates have also minimum requirements they must comply with. Every ad piece must have closed caption, have a sign-language interpreter, and audio-description for blind voters.</span></p> <h2>Political ads broadcasting schedule</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The major slots for political ads will run at 7 am and noon on radio, and 1 pm and 8:30 pm on television, until October 4.</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays: candidates for the Senate and state races (including governor)</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays: candidates for president and lower house.</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While time is proportional to parties&#8217; presence in Congress, it gets evened-out in the runoff stage, where each candidate will receive 50 percent of the airtime. That&#8217;s why the race now is to be among the top two candidates &#8211; then, it will be a whole new election.

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Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist, Gustavo has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. He has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets and founded The Brazilian Report in 2017. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

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