Brazil and Germany are two countries with a tradition of strong mass media consumption, but with striking differences in their respective systems of public television. In order to fully grasp not only the origins of such differences, but also the reasons as to why they exist in the first place, I performed a study of comparative nature from a historical point of view.
After contextualizing the development of modern television landscapes in Brazil and Germany, I employed three comparative dimensions to clearly understand what sets these two countries apart, focusing exclusively on the German broadcasters ARD and ZDF and the Brazilian broadcaster TV Brasil. The comparative dimensions are of financial, institutional and development nature, which are followed by a reflection regarding the future of public broadcasting systems, particularly in Brazil and Germany.
After comparing data and examples of public television-related activities, it became clear that Germany has a superior landscape in all three metrics considered. This originated from the fact that Germany, which since the 18th century works towards having a solid mass media structure, employed a multi-faceted project focusing on Public Value in order to eradicate all influence left from the Nazi regime. Brazil, on the other hand, faltered by delaying the introduction of a national public television broadcaster, which only happened in 2007. Until then, the elites and the political class worked towards the goal of supporting private investors, having then a television landscape of well-defined liberal tendencies, almost void of state intervention. It became clear that, while Germany still has occasional cases of political influence causing damage to ARD and ZDF, both on a national and on a regional level, it mostly serves as a reference in terms of what Brazil should aim for in order to fix TV Brasil’s shortcomings and have a stable public broadcasting landscape for decades to come.