Brazil energy crunch sidelines matches

Brazil’s emergency plan to cut energy use by 20% is wiping soccer off primetime TV, hitting advertisers who have paid for expensive slots.

The government has ordered that matches be played before 6 p.m. to avoid using floodlights in areas worst affected by an electricity shortage.

As a result, broadcasters TV Globo, TV Bandeirantes and Rede TV have been forced to revamp skeds and air games weekday afternoons, irking advertisers who paid for primetime slots.

“Sponsors have so far not complained. They know Globo is not to be blamed for this situation,” said a TV Globo spokeswoman.

TV Globo has sold exclusive soccer sponsorships worth an estimated $120 million this year to brewing company Ambev, telco Embratel, Bank Itau and shoe manufacturer Alpargatas.

The impact on ratings is not yet clear, but evening soccer games routinely attract high viewership.

Media hit

The crisis is expected to slow economic growth and further dampen ad investment, according to Daniel Barbara, commercial director of leading local ad agency DPZ.

He said ad revenues were flat from January-April compared to last year, though May has seen some improvement. But he fears the government’s plan to cut energy usage will end that.

Mexican media conglom Televisa has already been forced to make cuts on softer ad spend and Brazil’s TV Globo is following suit.

TV Globo has eliminated location shoots and cut back on trips and hotel expenses at its production unit, which is responsible for 90% of the network’s primetime programming.

It has also fired 13 actors from comedy series “Escolhinha do Professor Raimundo,” including veteran comedian Dede Santana.”We are making a few adjustments, but the quality of the shows will not be affected,” said TV Globo spokesman Luis Erlanger. He denied that the “Escolinha” cuts were related to the savings effort. “The show had 40 actors, which is just too much.”

TV Globo has not set an overall savings target, he said, nor are layoffs planned. TV Globo has about 8,000 employees.

In the wake of a first-quarter loss attributed to a softer Mexican ad market, Televisa announced job cuts and a cut in telenovela production. Televisa is the world’s leading producer of telenovelas.

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