Global formats get reworked for Argentina

Reality-based programming on the menu

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina Reality-based programming is sweeping Argentine broadcasting.

Leading broadcaster Telefe will air its version of “Big Brother” by November. Not to be outdone, Canal 13, the No. 2 broadcaster, will later this year air the Argentine version of “Survivor,” “Expedicion Robinson.”

The rush of reality programs is already apparent in a new breed of gameshows, led by Telefe’s “Fugitivos en la Ciudad” and “Fort Boyard,” which like “Expedicion Robinson” are produced by leading local player Promofilm.

The shows, which revel in the contestants’ discomfort when faced with nerve-wracking tasks, both attracted average ratings of almost 20 points in July.

These are all imported formats. “Fort Boyard” is based on a French show, while Levin bought “Expedicion Robinson” from Britain’s Castaway.

“It is an international trend,” says Promofilm’s CEO, Horacio Levin. “It’s what people want.”

But the influx is also being shaped by Argentine tastes.

“There is a significant investment in all reality programming,” says Sergio Ramirez, head of programming at America 2, the smallest private broadcaster. “But it has to be adapted to a format appropriate for local society.”

“Fugitivos,” for example, is based on the British show “Wanted,” but it was heavily reworked for local consumption before being snapped up, in its Argentine version, by Spain’s Antena 3.

Such programming is “a response to the public’s low attention span” and has virtually killed off Argentina’s traditional weekly dramas, according to Pablo Sirven, a leading Argentine media commentator. “With so many new media options on offer, you need something more immediate.”

Despite the influx of foreign reality formats, however, most execs say the possibility of acquiring more of the same is not their principal motive for attending Mipcom this year.

America 2’s Ramirez says he will be looking for programming in general. “The idea is not just to look for product, but to stay informed of what’s new, see the possibilities for co-productions and show off what what’s new at the channel.”

Adds Telefe programming director Claudio Villarruel, “Mipcom gives you the opportunity to see where things are moving outside your country.”

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