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Telemundo polishes gems

Mexican Cabler hopes to find US audience with revamped net

MIAMI — Telemundo Cable will relaunch the Gems channel in the U.S. as youth-oriented Mun2 Television on Oct. 10. Mun2 reads in Spanish as “mundos,” or “worlds.”

New cable net was scheduled for Sept. 19 but was pushed back after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Telemundo purchased the Gems Spanish-lingo network operations in both the U.S. and Latin America in May 2000. Still branded as Gems, the Latino feevee is now handled by Argentina-based pay TV programmer and distributor Pramer, which is controlled by Liberty Media. (Liberty is also an investor in Telemundo.)

Mun2’s initial distribution in the U.S. is around 5 million subscribers, of which 2.8 million are identified as Hispanic households.

Before Telemundo acquired the channel, Gems had undergone an evolution from a women’s feevee with lots of telenovelas to a web somewhat more broadly targeted at women and their families.

Extensive market research led Telemundo to the 18-34 segment, said Telemundo Cable prexy Manuel Abud. “They are really underserved on Spanish-language television, in terms of content.”

Primetime programming will include daily live entertainment news mag “FuZion” and live talker “Chat,” to which viewers can call or email comments.

Channel will also emphasize music, with five regular programs: “Planeta Rock,” highlighting rock en espanol; “Padrisimo,” for Tex-Mex and regional Mexican sounds; “UpBeat” for international club and dance music; “Jamz,” a breaking music-news show; and “Musica Si,” a showcase for live performances.

Other programming includes the series “Enamorate,” from Argentina’s Telefe, about life at a high school for the arts, and Brazil’s “Nueva Ola,” set at a high school gym.

Mun2 aims to attract new viewers to Spanish-lingo TV. “It’s a segment that hasn’t really been attacked,” Abud said.

Telemundo’s broadcast net and that of its bigger rival Univision both carry a similar mix of news, talk, sports and novelas designed to appeal to a wide audience. Univision also has a sister cable net, Galavision, and is prepping a second Spanish-lingo broadcast net, Telefutura, for January.

All original Mun2 productions will also air on Telemundo Intl., a Latino feevee focused on news and current events. “We are softening the image of Telemundo Intl.,” Abud said.

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