Brazil’s Haddad promises media ownership reform if elected

SAO PAULO (AP) — The likely presidential candidate of Brazil’s Workers’ Party in October’s elections pledged on Tuesday to reform the country’s media ownership rules as part of efforts to “radicalize Brazil’s democracy.” He also said the country needs more banks.

Former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad is the party’s vice presidential candidate, but is widely expected to take over the top of the ticket after electoral bar former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who now leads national polls.

Haddad, known mostly in the country’s south, has tried to appeal to the party’s base in other parts of the country since polls show him with minimal support so far.

The former mayor said in a press conference that there aren’t enough voices in Brazil’s mainstream media, which is owned by a handful of groups. He criticized what he calls “the permission of crossed ownership,” which enables TV networks to own newspapers, radios and vice versa.

“The levers of democratic development are credit, both in economic and in political forms. News has to be true and free. We want to radicalize democracy. A radicalization that all developed countries have made,” Haddad said. He also criticized allowing politicians to own media.

Members of the Workers’ Party often deem Brazil’s mainstream media as antagonistic to left-leaning parties and da Silva has said the country’s media is on a crusade to keep him in prison and off the ballot.

“It is not possible that there is only one opinion in the media,” Haddad told journalists. “This will be the first time that a Workers’ Party program will deal with two very serious things for Brazil’s democracy: access to credit and access to information.”

Da Silva leads polls with more than 30 percent backing. But Haddad until now has been a marginal figure in popularity surveys.

Earlier in a chat with friendly bloggers, Haddad criticized the country’s dominant media company, TV Globo.

“Some other day I was watching Globo taking responsibility in an editorial of 2013 for their support of the (1964) military coup. It took 49 years for them to recognize that. Are we going to wait 49 years for them to recognize what they did to Lula? We don’t have that time to wait,” Haddad said.

Da Silva was jailed in April after a corruption conviction and will stand trial on several other cases. He denies any wrongdoing and promises to appeal every decision against him.