Rodriguez ankles Univision

Exec forms own co., has exclusive contract with net

MIAMI — Univision Networks’ prexy for entertainment Mario Rodriguez has ankled the Spanish-lingo media conglom.

Rodriguez is forming his own company, New Skies Media, which will be under contract to consult exclusively with Univision on television.

Industry sources say Rodriguez still had a few years left on his contract with Univision.

According to a company press release, Rodriguez will not be replaced at this time. He oversaw entertainment programming for the flagship Univision and the Telefutura broadcast nets, and feevee Galavision.

Otto Padron, Ronald Day and Margarita Black will continue to head programming for Univision, TeleFutura and Galavision, respectively, and will now report directly to Ray Rodriguez, prexy and COO of the Univision Television Networks, all based in Miami.

Mario Rodriguez (no relation to Ray) reportedly had a falling out with Univision chairman and CEO Jerry Perenchio, supposedly in part over the U.S.-made sudser “Te amare en silencio” (I will love you silently), which was produced by Perenchio-backed Paloma Prods.

First announced to much fanfare at Univision’s May 2002 upfront, and re-presented this past May, the primetime novela will finally bow on Dec. 15. Industry sources say the sudser, a major step into original production by Univision, has been heavily re-edited.

Mario Rodriguez’s departure is not expected to have a major impact on network operations or programming.

With long-term programming supply accords in place with Mexico’s Grupo Televisa, and Venevision and RCTV, both of Venezuela — which collectively account for the vast majority of Spanish-lingo novela production — Univision has been able to cherry-pick from the output of these producers, and has had the benefit of seeing how the programs performed in their home markets before adding them to the U.S. schedule.

Univision has largely steered clear of original programming, except in nonfiction genres like talk, sports and news, and is not expected to stray from that strategy: The “Te amare” project was developed at a time when Univision and Televisa were on the outs over the terms of the programming supply accord, which was subsequently renegotiated.

Primetime on the flagship Univision network is dominated by Televisa output (which also fills virtually the entire schedule of feevee Galavision) and is key to its commanding lead over NBC-owned Telemundo.

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