Court says Brazilians can laugh at election

Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:50am EDT
 
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SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's election is a laughing matter again, at least for now.

Carlos Ayres Britto, vice president of the country's Supreme Court, late on Thursday suspended a rule banning TV and radio programs from poking fun at candidates in the country's October 3 elections.

The ban hurts constitutional principles of free expression and creates programing restraints, Britto said. His ruling, which came in response to a complaint by an association of TV and radio broadcasters, will be deliberated by a full session of the court most likely next week.

Brazil's top electoral court, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, in 2009 added an amendment to the country's electoral law that prevents "any use of audio or video that in any way degrades or ridicules candidates (or) political parties."

The amendment, which took effect in July, calls for fines of up to 100,000 reais ($57,000) for violations and as much as double that for repeat offenders.

Comedians had vigorously protested the law ahead of the country's elections for president and hundreds of governorships and congressional seats.

($=1.76 reais)

(Reporting by Luciana Lopez; editing by Stuart Grudgings and Vicki Allen)

 
<p>Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva laughs as he waits for Kuwait's Prime Minister Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah in Brasilia, July 22, 2010. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes</p>