RTVE signs 4-year pact with Universal

Cabanillas moves toward co-producing deal

MADRID — Giant Spanish pubcaster Radio Television Espanola (RTVE) has signed a four-year, large- package deal with Universal Studios that could lead the way for the studio to team with RTVE on TV co-productions.

Running from 1999 to 2002, the accord is believed to be an across-the-board arrangement covering movies, TV series and TV movies.

RTVE is soon expected to close a similarly large-package deal with Warner Bros. Intl. Television. Along with Warner Bros. and Col, U is a traditional key RTVE vendor, having previously inked two big product deals with RTVE, the first in 1990.

Beyond acquisition

But RTVE’s new director general, Pio Cabanillas, told Daily Variety last week that he’d like to move beyond straight acquisition deals toward co-producing with U.S. studios in order to achieve a “Europeanizing” of studio product.

“Universal and RTVE’s long production tradition will permit our relationship to expand to include the development of new joint projects which respond to an evolving TV market,” Cabanillas said in a March 18 press release announcing the new U-RTVE deal.

Peter Hughes, Universal Intl. Television exec VP and co-director, likewise underlined “the benefits of creating a long-term strategy to satisfy the changing necessities of our clients.”

Co-production talks between RTVE and U.S. studios may well advance next week, when Cabanillas will be in L.A. for the Academy Awards and related festivities. One of the best foreign-language nominees, Jose Luis Garci’s “The Grandfather,” was co-produced by RTVE.

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