In 2011, the former President of Brazil – Lula – signed a law prohibiting telecommunications companies from owning at the same time both the production and distribution of audiovisual content in Brazil.
Unreasonable and undermining the freedom of the consumers choice from the beginning, this law also did not follow the evolution of streaming technologies and the growth of digital media distribution markets.
The integration of telecommunications, advertising, TV operators, internet giants and the entire digital world is a clear and growing trend all over the world, but in Brazil, the synergy of those markets was prevented from deepening due to unclear and anti-consumer choice regulations.
Fast forward to 2019 and the archaic regulation of the Brazilian TELCO market got even worse, threatening to have channels belonging to TimeWarner (p.e Warner Channel) cancelled due to its merger with AT&T (which, in Brazil, controls Sky – the PayTv Provider). The group FOX was also prohibited of selling its channels, programs and other products directly to the consumer.
Observing since the beginning the threat to free market and consumer choice on the Pay Tv market in Brazil, the Consumer Choice Center was called to act by the Brazilian consumers. We believed it was important that policymakers and the laws itself should have adapted to a new, digital world and implemented strategies and structures that made room for the digital markets, giving more freedom of choice to the consumers.
Back in June 2019, the Consumer Choice Center started mobilizing consumers and the civil society with the Chega De Barreiras campaign, which brought together online and in-person media strategies.
The landing page Chegadebarreiras.org contained information about the issue to the general public. Our policy paper “How to Prepare Brazil for a Digital Future?” was distributed among policymakers in Brasilia and other stakeholders. Social media posts and videos were created to mobilize and create empathy from consumers.
We successfully showed consumers in Brazil that their freedom of choice in particular their freedom to choose what and where to watch content was being threatened by a outdated law that did not fit the current model of digital market and content distribution. The campaign resonated with millions of people.
In addition to targeting and mobilizing consumers, our Managing Director Fred Roeder and our Brazilian Affairs Manager Andre Freo visited Brasilia, and they spoke with dozens of congressmen and members of the regulatory agency ANATEL arguing about the importance of repealing article 5 of the SEAC law (Audiovisual Communication Services Conditioned to Access Law) and the benefits for consumers and the free market. They spoke with deputies, senators and advisers of the Regulatory Agency, presenting the report and the barriers that the bureaucracy of the law created for the very development of the production and commercialization of audiovisual content in Brazil.
Due to the work of the Consumer Choice, the Chega de Barreiras campaign reached more than 4 million people, with a high level of engagement. Our message resonated with consumers in Brazil.
This victory was consolidated in early February, when, in a historic voting, ANATEL’s board of directors relaxed the law and allowed the merger and operation of TimeWarner & AT&T in Brazil ruling it was not against Article 5 of the SeAC Law, opening precedent for new similar rulings on this subject.
Finally after 8 months of consumer activism, the Consumer Choice Center managed to be an integral part of this change ensuring that consumers in Brazil continued to have access to quality and diverse audiovisual content and even opening space for Brazil to break down more barriers to a bigger, better and stronger free market.