Nets vie for top U.S. dramas

Territory report: Spain

MADRID — Spain has a clear TV audience leader.

In August, TVE1 — the commercial service of pubcaster RTVE — took the highest market share of any channel in Spain for the 26th consecutive month: 23% compared with Antena 3’s 22% and Telecinco’s 19%.

But digital pay, cable and local webs passed 10% for the first time in Spanish history.

Rocked by changes of management, strategy and a pay TV megamerger, the reps from Spain’s volatile stations will be a very tough sells at Mipcom, barring one exception: U.S. drama, which enjoys moderate success.

Commercial net Telecinco will be shopping for “primetime-worthy TV movies and one or two studio films as the basis of a micropackage,” says Ghislain Barrois, Telecinco head of acquisitions.

It will also be sorting through some toon fare, given the end of its output deal with Disney, he adds.

Under new ownership after publishing groups Planeta and DeAgostini took a 25% controlling stake in April, rival private broadcaster Antena 3 has plowed into primetime movie skedding this fall. It has a well-stocked film inventory, thanks to large deals with Fox and, more recently, Sony and Universal. But it may well dig into its pocket for more titles, though new cost-cutting management is unlikely to pony up the reportedly high prices paid in past deals.

Pubcaster RTVE still maintains a reportedly weighty deal with Warner Bros., which is up for renewal in 2004. Beyond that, its acquisition interests are unlikely to vary from the past: topnotch docus, some foreign toon fare, select sitcoms (it airs “Los Beltran”), telenovelas and TV movies.

Sogecable premium channel Canal Plus will be using Mipcom to check out series, docus and general programming trends, says Leonardo Baltanas, Canal Plus programming director.

Led by the retro family drama “Cuentame como paso,” domestic fiction still dominates primetime, but U.S. drama is making a comeback. Airing on Telecinco, “CSI’s” average primetime Monday night 25% share over the 2002-03 season was a big deal in Spain. “The success of ‘CSI’ means that, for the first time in years, series are now an acquisition interest for Telecinco,” says Barrois.

Airing in late primetime to latenight on RTVE’s culture feed TVE-2, “Gilmore Girls” and “Six Feet Under” also pulled in good reviews and decent ratings.

Other channels will also be eying foreign (primarily U.S.) drama.

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