The Brazilian government has announced a legislative decree that aims to place prohibitions on the rental of TV channels and radio programs in Brazil. The proposals have sparked strong reaction from evangelical leaders in Brazil, and in particular from Christians who currently host programs on the country's television and radio networks.
According to Brazilian publication Folha de S. Paulo, the government proposes that any entity interested in implementing broadcasting service for commercial purposes "cannot have ties that make them subject to the management, administration, domain, command or guidance of any other entity, subject to commitments or financial, religious, family, political party or trade relations."
The decree aims to update the current Brazilian Telecommunications Code, which does not explicitly prohibit the renting of broadcasting space in the programming schedules of TV stations.
Opponents of the proposals claim it represents a threat to religious freedom as well as freedom of speech.
Over the past 20 years, a major expansion of evangelical programs on Brazilian TV has been seen, with the purchase of space in open channels and the acquisition of concessions of their own TV channels.
A survey in 2011 by Folha.com showed that churches occupied 140 hours a week on open TV channels in Brazil. One of the main churches that purchases space on Brazilian TV is the International Church of God's Grace of the missionary RR Soares on REDE TV! Network; it spends more than $6 million a month on TV slots.
A representative of the Evangelical Parliamentary Front, Mr. João Campos (PSDB-GO), rejected the decree, calling the proposal "nonsense." He has promised that the evangelical electorate will "radically stand against it."
"What would motivate the government to take this measure? Are there any complaints from the public? I think not. If there is a loophole in the law, it must go through Congress," he said, according to Folha.