A constitutional amendment allowing foreigners to own up to 30% of media companies has passed the Senate on first reading by 62 votes to six, with four abstentions. The second reading will take place after five sessions, which should mean Thursday, May 16, if the Senate sticks to its usual practice of holding sessions on every weekday.
Dozens of senators from all parties spoke in the debate on the floor of the house. The Democratic Labor Party (PDT), which has consistently opposed the measure, called for rejection but other opposition parties supported it, led by the Workers Party (PT). During the debate Sen. Ramez Tebet (PMDB, Mato Grosso), president of Congress, promised to make sure that the Social Communication Council is installed before the amendment is given its second reading. The opposition parties (with the PDT objecting) demanded installation of the Council, created by law many years ago, as a condition for passing the amendment.
Sen. Artur da Távola (PSDB, Rio de Janeiro), the majority leader, spoke in favor of the bill. The entry of foreign capital into the broadcasting industry won?t be a foot in the door, he said, ?because this door, which some people want to slam shut, has already been broken down by the cultural industry, especially America?s?.
The PDT leader, Sen. Sebastião Rocha (Amapá), who spoke against the measure, and the PT leader, Sen. Eduardo Suplicy (São Paulo), called for an unwhipped vote, allowing members to follow their consciences.