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Movies remain No. 1 priority

Territory report: Mexico

MEXICO CITY — Nobody here makes any secret about what will be the hottest property up for grabs at Mipcom — a little movie about a wall-crawling young man.

Programming execs from both of Mexico’s top broadcasters, Televisa and TV Azteca, will cross the Atlantic with eyes firmly fixed on “Spider-Man,” the highest-grossing film in Mexican history.

The question is, who will get it?

“Obviously we’re both going to buy it,” says Martin Luna, general director of Azteca Studios, citing the example of “Titanic,” which was shared by the two networks and aired simultaneously.

But Alberto Ciurana, Televisa’s programming VP, disagrees: “It’s not in my plans to share ‘Spider Man.’ ”

Ciurana says the “Titanic” deal was unique, due to the very high asking price, and is unlikely to happen again. “I don’t like to go around sharing anything.”

Regardless of how the arachno-battle plays out, the message, for the Mexican market, is clear.

“Movies, movies, movies,” Luna says.

Both Azteca and Televisa produce and export a huge amount of programming, especially telenovelas, making TV series a decidedly second priority when it comes to perusing foreign product.

Azteca, which has a $25 million acquisitions budget, buys about 350 movies a year, 100 of them premieres.

Luna says he buys series when obliged to do so by distribs who package them with pics. Most of the skeins, he doesn’t even bother to broadcast.

With four channels, Televisa has twice the airtime to fill, and thus pays more attention to series.

It generally buys American shows, such as “The Sopranos” and “CSI,” without much competition from Azteca. Crime dramas are unpopular with Mexican auds and thus ignored by local nets.

Meanwhile, reality shows, which have been the hottest format in Mexico for the past two years, are not likely to play a huge role for either network at Mipcom.

Televisa has a deal with Holland-based Endemol, while Azteca says it has a full-time staff dedicated to developing its own nonfiction fare.

While Televisa would not disclose its shopping budget for the market, Azteca’s Pedro Lazcurain, director of acquisitions, has about $1 million to spend.

“It’s to fill in holes,” he says.

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