Satire banned in Brazil ahead of presidential election

| Posted in Funny News |


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Dubbed the “anti-joking law”, the relic of Brazil’s 1964-1985 dictatorship prohibits ridiculing candidates in the three months before elections.

Critics say the ban threatens free speech and is a blight on the reputation of Latin America’s largest nation.

“Do you know of any other democracy in the world with rules like this?” asked Marcelo Tas, the acerbic host of a weekly TV comedy show that skewers politicians and celebrities alike.

“If you want to find a bigger joke, you would have to look to Monty Python.”

Proponents say the restrictions keep candidates from being portrayed unfairly, help ensure a level playing field and encourage candour by those seeking to replace centre-Left President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Making fun of candidates on air ahead of elections is punishable by fines up to £72,000 and a broadcast license suspension.

Only a few fines have ever been handed out. But Mr Tas and others said TV and radio stations had been self-censoring their material in order to avoid the fines.

The law holds that TV and radio programmes cannot “use trickery, montages or other features of audio or video in any way to degrade or ridicule a candidate, party or coalition”.

Because the internet is not licensed by the government, it is not covered under the law.

But if a TV or radio programme were to ridicule a candidate online, a complaint could be judged by the supreme electoral court.

Fernando Neves, a former head of the electoral court, defended the law as fair-minded.

“A broadcaster cannot make jokes that make one candidate look bad,” he told the O Globo newspaper.

But Mr Tas advised Brazilian politicians to follow the example of US President Barack Obama.

“The growth curve of Obama’s popularity grew after he appeared on humour programmes,” Mr Tas said. “When you allow yourself to be interviewed or confronted with a critical opinion, like on my programme, you may take some shots, but you can show a more human side that the voters might like.

“Humour is nothing more than the exaggeration of reality. You can make an observation that is a caricature of reality that just may help people think about an issue in another light.”

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