The way people watch TV has definitely changed in three poor neighborhoods of Joao Pessoa, the capital city of Paraíba in Northeastern Brazil. And it’s not because a new soap opera or any other TV show went live.
Last December, a new digital television service was made available for 100 local families, all of them benefiting from Brasil sem Miséria plan. The interactive system gives them access to a range of public services – information on health care, financial literacy, social programs, jobs and training opportunities – at the touch of a remote control.
“Now I can apply for jobs and search for training offers without even leaving my bedroom,” says hairdresser Edineide Santos. “Back in the days people here had to take at least one bus to reach the National Employment System (Sine, its acronym in Portuguese) office.”
These new job opportunities for Edineide are provided by EBC, Brazil’s public broadcasting service. All content is delivered via a satellite that communicates with local antennae, which then transmit the digital signals to set top boxes distributed among the families.
In addition to the boxes, they received a remote control and training. “The technology enables them to engage with the content as if they were online, even if there’s no broadband connectivity in the area,” says Andre Barbosa, Technical Development manager at EBC.
“Besides, the system is easy to use, which is important for this part of the population that relies on TV as their main information source. The remote control is just like any other, with red, yellow, blue and green buttons,” he adds. Ninety-seven percent of Brazilian households have at least one TV set.