Public service broadcasting in Brazil regains its autonomy as the CEO of the communications company EBC can now return to his position after being fired by interim president

On  2 June, the Federal Supreme Court (STF) in Brazil decided to reappoint the journalist Ricardo Melo to the post of CEO of the Brazilian broadcasting company Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC), after he was removed by the country’s interim president.

Melo was appointed as CEO on 3 May by former President Dilma Rousseff for a four year mandate, in accordance with the State’s law. On 12 May, Rousseff was suspended from her role after a Senate vote and was replaced by the vice President, Michel Temer who embraces a more conservative political line. Temer decided to fire Milo and replace him with the journalist Laertes Rimoli, who is reported to support political parties more in line with Temer.

However, in order to maintain EBC’s independence from the government, the law establishes that the four year mandate as CEO should not coincide with the President’s mandate. In addition, the CEO can only be deposed by EBC’s Board of Trustees or for legal matters.

Milo’s dismissal was then not entirely in accordance with the law and with the founding principles of public service broadcasting in Brazil, which by nature stands in autonomy from the government, to provide content for the public’s benefit. Members of Parliament supported EBC and contested Temer’s decision. “This project does not belong to the Executive nor to any other party, but to the Brazilian society,” they stated in a note.

On 20 May current EBC employees, with the support of organisations such as the National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj) and Journalists and Broadcasters unions in São Paulo, held a rally and filed a petition to protest against Milo’s dismissal which affected their work. In fact, after the change of the position, journalists said they were neglected the opportunity to air the show of the singer Mano Brown, who already criticized the provisional government that replaced President Rousseff.

EBC praised the court’s decision to reappoint Milo. “In this time of unrest in the country, society’s right to a public communication system protected against undue intervention of government and the free market of taxes must be ensured,” they stated. The organisation will then keep ensuring that public service broadcasting in Brazil retains its autonomy and quality of services, especially during such critical times for the country.