Brazil: “Dynastic Succession Struggle at TV Bahia”

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PROJOR study: “Electronic Coronelismo of a New Kind (1999-2004): Broadcast licenses as medium of exchange in political bargaining.” Thorough.

Briga dos Magalhães atinge renovação de emissora: “Strife among the Magalhães clan affects renovation of broadcast concession.” Terra Magazine reports.

One of the more interesting stories to watch here in Brazil is the phenomenon known as “electronic coronelismo.”As the Colombian newspaper owner once said:

“Newspapers are like revolvers: You keep them around so you can pull them out when it’s time to open fire.” — Julio Mario Santo Domingo (El Espectador)

It’s a lot like Rupert Murdochism, only far more crude, grotesque and retrograde  in its antidemocratic perniciousness.

When the late Antônio Carlos Magalhães was the Minister of Communications under President Sarney, he tended to hand out broadcast concessions as political party favors. A legendary episode in a legendary life.
TV Bahia, for example, a Rede Globo retransmitter, is owned and operated by lots of people named Magalhães, as you will read. See also

Residents of Maranhão and Amapá tend to get their news from outlets controlled, directly or indirectly, by people named Sarney. As in the father-and-daughter senators Sarney. And so on.

I was recently working on a pauta (roughly, a story “pitch”) about consultancies here that specialize in helping family-controlled businesses deal with the ways in which the Freudian family romance can interfere with rational business planning and management. This would seem to be a case in point.

A briga dos herdeiros do ex-senador Antonio Carlos Magalhães atinge seu segundo impasse. Depois da derrota do dono da construtora OAS, César Mata Pires (casado com Tereza Helena, filha de ACM), na disputa pelo controle da Rede Bahia, a ausência de rubricas e assinaturas tumultuam a renovação do sinal da emissora TV Santa Cruz, em Itabuna, uma das principais cidades do interior baiano.

The quarrel among heirs to the late ACM has reached a second impasse. After the defeat suffered by the owner of the OAS construction company, César Mata Pires (married to a daughter of the late senator, Tereza Helena), in the dispute for control of the Rede Bahia network, the absence of the proper stamps and signatures is throwing a monkey wrench into the renovation of the concession for TV Santa Cruz in Itabuna, one of the main cities in the interior of Bahia.

Essa nova rusga (ou capítulo de arrastada novela) se tornou pública esta semana e guarda, nas coxias, os diálogos precários das duas partes da família. A TV Santa Cruz é um dos braços vitais da Rede Bahia, que engloba seis emissoras de TV aberta, uma de canal fechado, o jornal Correio da Bahia e duas emissoras FM.

This latest falling out (or chapter in a long-running soap opera) became public this week and  … TV  Santa Cruz is a key branch of the Rede Bahia network, which includes six open-air TV stations, a cable channel, the Correio da Bahia newspaper, and two FM radio stations.

Em resposta à união do senador ACM Jr. com os herdeiros do ex-deputado Luis Eduardo Magalhães (juntos, 66% das ações da empresa), César se recusa a assinar o pedido de renovação.

In response to the alliance between Sen. ACM Junior and the heirs of the late federal deputy Luis Eduardo Magalhães (together, they control 66% of the company), César is refuing to sign the renewal application.

Died of an excess of Bolivian marching powder before ACM could make him president of Brazil, the way Joe did JFK.

Em 11 de março, uma devassa judicial no apartamento da viúva de ACM, Arlette Magalhães, expôs uma ação de arrolamento de bens movida por Tereza Mata Pires. Ela suspeitava – e depois confirmou, em nota pública, a ausência de algumas obras – do sumiço de bens do ex-senador. Em contra-ataque, os demais herdeiros doaram à viúva as obras de arte a que teriam direito. Uma briga empresarial envolvia Arlette, até então a única capaz de conversar com os dois lados. Mas outros lances, políticos e humanos, acirram os humores familiares.

On March 11, a court-ordered search of the premises at the apartment of ACM’s widow, Arlette, turned up a petition to inventory the estate filed by Tereza Mata Pires. She suspected — and later confirmed, in a press release … that some of the late senator’s assets had disappeared. The other heirs counterattacked by donating to the widow the art works to which she was entitled. A business dispute involved Arlette, who to that point was the only party still talking to both sides. But other events, both political and personal, raised the temperature of family relations.

Com as negativas de César no processo de renovação da TV de Itabuna, os conflitos ganham uma dimensão mais grave: a Rede Bahia pode ter perdas econômicas. Diante do atraso na assinatura, receia-se o fim do sinal. Veredas jurídicas exigem a aprovação de todos os sócios, não somente os majoritários. Em miúdos: César, com 33%, pôs uma pedra no meio do caminho.

With Ceśar’s refusal to sign off on the renewal of the TV station in Itabuna, the conflicts got more serious: Rede Bahia might suffer financially. With the signature withheld, the end of the station is feared. Legal red tape requires the unanimous approval of the partners, not just the majority shareholders. In short, César, with his 33%, [allusion to a classic modernist poem, somewhat reminiscent of Lorca, by which we are to understand that he threw a monkey wrench into everyone’s plans.]  

Terra Magazine apurou que, nos bastidores, seguem os palavrões e as agressões. O diálogo cortês se dá na esfera judicial. Em 1º de abril, o Diário do Poder Judiciário da Bahia publicou, na página 37, o andamento de uma ação ordinária de César Mata Pires contra a TV Bahia, Arlette Magalhães, ACM Jr., Luis Eduardo Magalhães Filho e as irmãs Paula e Carolina.

This magazine can report that the foul language and aggression continues behind the scenes. Polite words are reserved for the courtroom. On Apriil 1, the Bahian courts published, on page 37 of their official diary, the proceedings of a lawsuit filed by César against TV Bahia, Arlette, ACM Jr., the son of Luis Eduardo, and the sisters Paula and Carolina.

Trata-se do despacho da 14ª Vara Cível: “Ouça-se a parte Autora sobre a contestação oferecida pelos Suplicados, no prazo legal.” Esta é uma das frentes da luta pelo comando do grupo de mídia. Corre em sigilo de Justiça.

What was published was the docket of the 14th Civil Bar: “Let the plaintiff be heard regarding the response offered by the respondents within the time required by law.” This one of the battlefronts in the war for control of the media group. It is being conducted under seal. 

O conflito familiar tem três dimensões: a Justiça, os bastidores e os boatos. Não deve ser menosprezado o poder dos últimos. Equivalem a caneladas. A notícia de que César Mata Pires estaria se aliando à Record da Bahia (TV Itapoan) causou arrepios nos Magalhães. Versão corrente: o empresário teria oferecido apoio ao apresentador popular da Record, Raimundo Varela, que lidera a disputa pela Prefeitura de Salvador, para prejudicar o pré-candidato ACM Neto.

The family feud has three dimensions: the legal battle, the backstage feuding, and the rumor mill. The power of the latter should not be underestimated. [They are as vicious as a kick to the shins.] The news that César might be aligning himself with TV Record Bahia (TV Itapoan) gave the rest of clan gooseflesh. The current story is that the businessman offered his support to the popular Record TV personality Raimundo Varela, who leads the polls in the race for the mayor’s office in the capital city of Salvador, to the detriment of pre-candidate ACM III. 

Since we are mongering rumors: Another Record TV personality, state lawmaker Wagner Montes, is supposedly standing for mayor of Rio this year. The man is a staggering buffoon. Globo is said to be throwing its might behind Green Party ex-guerrilla Fernando Gabeira, who, though also mightily peculiar, is no fool.

Look at me: I am picking up the native relish for hot, roasted fofoca, with farofa on the side.


Arnie Pie with Eye in the Sky: TV Bahia films Carnaval. Source: turista-blogger Roman Virdi.

Em entrevista a Terra Magazine (leia abaixo), Varela se afasta do diz-que-diz:

In an interview with Terra Magazine, Varela distances himself from the “he said, she said” … 

– Não vi, não sei nem onde mora (César)… Nesse negócio de família, eu não me meto, meu irmão!

“I have not seen him, I don’t even know where César lives. In this family thing, I don’t get involved, bro!” 

Uma frase do ex-governador da Bahia Octávio Mangabeira sintetiza a lógica dessa história: “O baiano dá 100 para o vizinho não ganhar 50”. O vizinho seria o deputado federal ACM Neto (DEM). Procurado pela reportagem, Neto declara:

A memorable saying of former Bahia governor Octávio Mangabeira sums of the logic of this whole story: “A Bahian will pay 100 just to keep his neighbor from earning 50.” The neighbor here being ACM III, a federal deputy for his grandfather’s ex-PFL. Sought for comment, ACM III said:

– Não tenho informação sobre isso. Apenas li a respeito.

“I have no information on that, just what I have read.”

O senador ACM Jr. decidiu não se pronunciar, publicamente, sobre a briga judicial. O executivo da OAS, Léo Pinheiro, foi procurado três vezes no escritório da construtora em São Paulo. Não houve retorno aos telefonemas. O advogado de César Mata Pires foi contatado, mas não houve resposta.

Senator ACM Jr. decided not to comment publicly on the legal battle. OAS executive Léo Pinheiro was sought for comment three times at his office in São Paulo. The calls were not returned. César’s lawyer was contacted, but did not reply.

Os Magalhães trabalham com a hipótese de César Mata Pires não assinar o pedido de renovação da TV de Itabuna. Duas soluções em estudo: o apoio de uma emissora próxima ou a aquisição de outro sinal. Saídas que não evitam a perda de identidade regional e os custos elevados da operação. E sem a expectativa de ver resolvido o conflito com César e Tereza Mata Pires – a não ser que ambos, num gesto desprendido, se desfaçam das ações. Improvável. Ao que parece, cunhado é para sempre.

The Magalhães clan is proceeding on the assumption that César Mata Pires will not sign the application for renewal of the TV Itabuna concession. They are studying two solutions: The support of a neighboring TV staion or acquiring another frequency. Without any hope of seeing the conflict with César and Tereza resolved — unless the two of them drop their lawsuits. Not likely. …

A seguir, a conversa com o apresentador da Record (TV Itapoan) e pré-candidato a prefeito de Salvador, Raimundo Varela.

Following, an interview with TV Record personality and mayoral aspirant Raimundo Varela. 

Terra Magazine – É verídica a história de que o empresário César Mata Pires, dentro da briga da família de ACM, teria procurado a Record e o senhor?

TM: It is true that Mata Pires, as part of his quarrel with ACM’s family, sought out you and Record?

Raimundo Varela – Nunca! Não vi, não sei nem onde mora.

Never. Haven’t met the man. Don’t know where he lives.

Nem onde mora?

Not even where he lives?
Não sei. Eu só sei que ele é o tal presidente da (construtora) OAS.

I don’t know. I just know he’s the president of OAS.

E que teria oferecido apoio à sua campanha, contra ACM Neto…

He supposedly offered to back your campaign against ACM III.

Não, não. Alguém está plantando isso. Isso não existe. Fique tranqüilo. Nesse negócio de família, eu não me meto, meu irmão!

No, no, no. Someone is spreading that around. Not true. Take my word for it. In this family business, I don’t get involved, bro!

Sim…

Yeah …

Deus lhe abençoe.

God bless ’em.

Elvira Lobato of the Folha de S. Paulo has worked this story for years, and was recently the subject of SLAPP suits by the Universal Church, which owns Record, over reporting on its business dealings.

As far as I could tell, what she wrote was a perfectly well-documented X-ray of the business structure, based on public record.  And going from having Globo impose its Manchurian candidate to having Globo and Record vie to oppose rival Manchurian candidates does not exactly seem like spectacular progress toward putting the bad old days behind us, does it?

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