HE’s Belo Horizonte-based friend and correspondent Pablo Villaca reports that thousands of Brazilian Oscar fans without cable are out of luck this year because Rede Globo, the country’s most important TV network, has decided to shine the Oscar telecast in favor of broadcasting events surrounding Rio’s annual Carnival.

“Years ago Globo’s main competitor, SBT, took the rights to broadcast the Oscar in Brazil from Globo,” Villaca explains, “and for five years that worked. SBT wasn’t as prepared then to deal with such an important event, but at least it broadcast the full event for Brazilian cinephiles.

“Then Globo bought the rights back. Since then, it’s been a terrible experience for those who don’t have access to cable and therefore can’t watch the Oscars on TNT.

“At first, Globo chose the wrong hosts to comment about the event live. But then it got worse. Ever since Oscars started happening on Sundays, Globo never aired it in full. Big Brother Brazil, the local version of the reality show produced by Globo, concentrates its ‘main events’ on Sunday, including the choosing of those who can be voted off the show.

“Instead of shortening the episode for this one special Oscar Sunday or bumping the “important” BBB activities to the next Monday, Globo inexplicably decided to cut the Oscars short. Every year, Brazilian viewers had to catch the Academy Awards after five or six prizes were already awarded (including the Supporting Actor and Actress categories).

“Could it get even worse? Yes. This year, the Oscars will happen during our Carnival, and Globo decided to scrap the ceremony altogether in order to show the Samba groups parading in competition.

“It’s as simple as that because they own the ball. They won’t allow other networks to broadcast the Oscars and they won’t show it themselves. If you have cable, great — go to TNT. If you don’t, tough luck. Watch the Carnevale transmission (even if you hate it) while you wait for Globo to inform you who won what.

“Apparently the Academy (or ABC) doesn’t stipulate in its contract that any company that buys the right to broadcast the Oscars should be required to…well, broadcast the Oscars. Clearly this development marginally weakens the show’s allegation that the Oscars are being watched by hundreds of millions of people all over the world. And it certainly seems to suggest that the Oscars are really not the strong show they were in the past.”