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Public Services Through a TV Screen in Brazil

April 1, 2014

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Ms. Claudiana Santos and her family, from Colinas do Sul, benefited from the initiative.

Universidade Federal da Paraíba (UFPB) / Handout

A multidimensional study analyzed the impacts of a pilot offering digital public services through an interactive TV system in Brazil. The study collected data in 3 neighborhoods consisting of 100 families, which are beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) program Bolsa Familia. The results were presented in the 4th Latin American Forum on Public Media (Brasilia, August 2013). The project received two prestigious awards.

Challenge

Brazil is currently going through a series of technological transformations and has embarked on a process of transitioning from an analog TV system to a digital one. The new Brazilian system should be completely installed by 2016, when the analog switch-off will take place. This represents a challenge to public TV broadcasters in Brazil, because it involves a significant amount of resources and changes in the way TV and radio content is distributed.

At the same time, television remains the main gateway to information and entertainment in Brazil and most emerging and developing countries. For this reason, a well-designed system of interactive digital television can become an effective tool to promote citizenship values and bring information to the most disadvantaged groups in society.

Solution

This grant aimed at assisting Brazil’s Public Broadcasting Network Operator (EBC) to carry out an integrated study on the socio-economic impact of the implementation of the National Digital Public Broadcasting Network Operator (NDPBNO). This is an open, unified digital platform for transmission and broadcasting that can be shared by different public operators, thus reducing costs.

The study assessed the effectiveness of interactive digital TV to promote citizenship values and bring information and access to services to the most vulnerable groups. To this end, it used the experience gained from a pilot focusing on some 100 families from disadvantageous backgrounds. The report informs, quantifies and describes possible changes in order to implement the NDPBNO project at a national level. It also showcases how the digital divide can be bridged. 


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Beneficiaries were interviewed by researchers from the University of Paraíba.

Universidade Federal da Paraíba (UFPB) / Handout

Results

With financing from a Spanish Fund for Latin America (SFLAC) grant, Brazil’s EBC carried out an integrated study on the socio-economic impact of the NDPBNO project. The study drew from the pilot project “Brasil 4D,” conducted on three poor neighborhoods of the city of João Pessoa-PB among 100 families benefiting from the Bolsa Familia program. Through Brazil 4D, families were provided an interactive digital television service that allowed access to public services such as health care, financial literacy, social programs, jobs and training opportunities.

The experience reflects how new technologies can support development objectives. In particular, it concludes that public television can play a role beyond its traditional function for all citizens – and especially the poorest ones:

  • Around 83% of the participants saw economic benefits to the program;
  • For 64% of beneficiaries, the main benefit was saving money from accessing public services, while others valued the jobs and training channel and the financial information.
  • The report presents other important conclusions, as well as an overview of international digital systems, which will prove useful to expand the initiative.

The project ‘Brazil 4D’ has so far received two prestigious awards: the Television Engineering Society (SET) trophy; and an honorable mention for the 2013 Innovation and Creativity in TV Award in New York.


" My neighbor didn’t receive any Government benefits because she didn’t know that she was eligible. After seeing on TV how to do it, however, she ran off to enroll and start getting what she was entitled to "

Marta Gomes

Project beneficiary

Bank Group Contribution

The study was financed through a US$60,000 grant from the Spanish Fund for Latin America.

Partners

Main partners include EBC, Empresa Brasil de Comunicação, which is the Public Broadcasting Network Operator, and the Spanish Government through the Spanish Fund for Latin America, SFLAC.

Moving Forward

The lessons emerging from the study will help Brazil implement a national digital platform with interactive content from all of the country’s public TV channels. Once it is fully operational in Brazil, it could be exported to other Latin American countries, as well as to Africa.

Due to the positive results achieved, the Government decided to launch another project and expand the analysis of the impacts on families which are CCT recipients. This was launched by the Public Broadcasting Network Operator (EBC), in February 2014, with 300 families living in the outskirts of the capital city of Brasilia.

Beneficiaries

In-depth interviews with beneficiaries showed which aspects of the program were more successful – and which were not. Among those aspects that beneficiaries valued the most was the possibility to access information from home on training courses, job opportunities, health issues and social benefits.

Participant Marta Gomes recalls calling a 68 year old neighbor to watch the health programs with her. “My neighbor didn’t receive any Government benefits because she didn’t know that she was eligible. After seeing on TV how to do it, however, she ran off to enroll and start getting what she was entitled to.”

“The TV has a guide which shows how to interact with it, it’s very easy,” explains 27-year old Josias Mariano. “When I saw the job channel, I was able to get more information, I redid my CV and I found formal employment.”

83%
of the participants saw economic benefits to the program