Roberto Marinho

Billionaire Brazilian media tycoon

Roberto Pisani Marinho, journalist and media proprietor: born Rio de Janeiro 3 December 1904; thrice married (three sons); died Rio de Janeiro 6 August 2003.

Roberto Marinho turned a small local-newspaper business into one of the world's great media empires. His TV Globo network is not only Brazil's biggest, but has correspondents all over the world, and bears comparison with the big US networks. In the process of building up his businesses, he turned himself into an influential political figure, who liked to put his views on his own front pages.

Marinho accumulated a personal fortune estimated at two billion dollars. But his origins were modest. He was born in the lower-class district of Estácio in Rio de Janeiro, then the capital of Brazil, where his father, Irineu, helped to found a small evening paper, A Noite, in 1911. He eventually worked his way up to news editor, and, in 1925, he returned from a trip to Europe determined to found a politically independent newspaper of his own.

Irineu Marinho promptly sold his stake in A Noite, and set up a new paper, christened O Globo, after readers were invited to send in their suggestions. He gave Roberto, the oldest of his five children, who had trained as a joiner and mechanic, a job as a cub reporter. But within a few weeks he was dead, at the age of 49, and the inexperienced Roberto became the nominal head of the company.

But Roberto insisted on working his way up from the bottom, learning all aspects of the business until, in 1931, he became managing editor at the age of 26. Over the next three decades he built up the circulation of O Globo, moving it to a purpose-built headquarters in 1954. By that time he had expanded into radio (1944) and, in 1965, he founded TV Globo, with the initial help of the Time-Life group. He then created a holding company, Organizações Globo, to control a sprawling communications conglomerate of unprecedented size and scope, which also included a string of magazines and a publishing house.

He never stopped expanding, founding a highly successful tabloid daily, Extra, in Rio in 1998, when he was 94, and moving into the fiercely competitive São Paulo market two years later, with the Diário de S. Paulo. He also set up an educational foundation and sponsored a broad range of cultural initiatives, which took up more of his time after he had handed over the day-to-day running of his media interests to his three sons.

The Globo television network, known as Rede Globo, became Marinho's flagship enterprise. With 113 affiliated stations, it reaches every corner of Brazil, and made its owner one of the most powerful figures in the country, whoever was in the presidential palace. TV Globo is best known abroad for its slickly made soap operas (telenovelas), which have been sold all over the world, including to Britain and the United States. At home, the network's news coverage was the basis of its remarkable success: Marinho said that it gave Brazilians "a new way of viewing the world".

Roberto Marinho made himself into a hate figure for the left when he threw the weight of his media empire behind the military coup of 1964, which removed the popular president, João Goulart, and inaugurated a succession of right- wing authoritarian governments that lasted, with some internal changes, until 1985.

Marinho said he regarded the military intervention as the best way of saving the country's institutions from the growing radicalism of Goulart's government. His enemies claimed that Marinho turned TV Globo into the mouthpiece of the new regime, publicising its views and policies and glossing over its human-rights abuses. His admirers pointed out, on the other hand, that he spoke out against the press censorship imposed by the generals, did what he could to help people suffering political persecution, and never discriminated against any of his journalists because of their political views.

Long after the military returned to their barracks, successive civilian presidents found it advisable to stay on the right side of "The Journalist", as Marinho liked to be known, and they sometimes appointed his friends and protégés to their cabinets - though Marinho said he never asked for, or granted, political favours.

Even the current president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former trade-union leader who was a ferocious critic of Marinho during and after the military dictatorship - he blamed his defeat in the 1989 elections on TV Globo - praised him as a man who believed in Brazil and spent his life serving it. He decreed three days of official mourning after Marinho's death was announced.

Colin Harding

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

News
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Deputy Head of Science

£22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London