Brazilian TV equals TV Globo equals telenovelas. There are other channels as well, and Globo does have other programs, but the equation isn?t to far from the truth.
TV Globo has accomplished a monopoly of the mind by being the first and having the best broadcast facilities. Cable is not very common in Brazil so almost everybody gets his signal from the air. Globo is always loud and clear. Moreover Brazilians don?t use the pre-set stations, they just search the band for the available stations. TV Globo is always the first. This makes TV Globo the fourth largest commercial network in the world.
The program of a typical day is:
14:30 Vale a Pena ver de Nova: Worth seeing again, popular novelas from the past get a second change.
15:30 American Film: Dubbed of course
17:15 Malha?ao: A highschool novela with and for the young Brazilians. This one is already running for 10 years.
17:45 Caboclo: An other novela
18:40 Local news
19:00 Come?ar de Novo: The seven o?clock novela. Usually more humorous as the others
20:00 National news
20:50 Senhora do Destino: The current 8 o?clock novela
The schedule looks exactly like this six days a week on sundays there?s a news-show that lasts the whole evening. After 10 o?clock the program varies. Football sometimes changes the schedule, but kick-off is usually scheduled after the end of the 8 o?clock soap.
There is one important difference between telenovelas and soaps as we know them. Telenovelas only run for a limited time. The standard is 180 shows, but this can be stretched or curtailed if necessary. So every month or two, after a dramatic finale, one of the novelas is changed for a totally new show. Actors can get promoted to a bigger part, or to a more important soap. The pinacle being the 8 o?clock soap.
The novela phenomenon isn?t restricted to TV. In the papers you can read the plot for the whole week. Highlights are announced and stars and writers talk about the upcoming and past events. Altough everybody already knows what is going to happen beforehand, this only seems to add to the popularity. The scene in which Maria do Carma beats up the woman who robbed her child after birth was announced two weeks earlier. Yet almost 60% of all Brazilians were watching it, when it finally went on air.
With this huge popularity novelas are more than just entertainment. They also serve as a way to comment on current affairs and shape the thoughts about subjects like gays, the role of women and fidelity. As such they take the role of talkshows which play a minor part in Brazil.
TV Globo is a commercial network and they use every trick available to maximize earnings. Twenty minutes of the national news are taken up by commercials. The same applies to other programs, but between two shows there never is a commercial break. Product placements in novelas are common and sometimes very succesful. TV presenters tell how much better X tastes when you use brand Y. Sport commentators use any spare time to talk about various products.
Telenovelas are one thing all Brazilians share. The rich who are living the novela life, the urban poor who can see it from closeby everyday and the people in the interior who wouldn?t have a clue this lifestyle existed without the novelas. As such TV Globo is one of the keys to Brazil?s national identity.