Channeling new talent

Canal 9 lures staff and shows from rivals

BUENOS AIRES — After coming in third in the ratings for 15 years, broadcaster Canal 9 is poaching content and talent from Telefonica’s dominant web Telefe and Grupo Clarin’s Artear-Canal 13. It hopes to end years of financial woes and ownership shuffles that have muddled its direction.

The biggest coup for the broadcaster, run by journo-lawyer Daniel Hadad, is signing host-impresario Marcelo Tinelli to supply primetime content from his Ideas del Sur Prods. outfit.

This takes TV’s biggest advertising and audience draws — “The Beverly Hillbillies”-like comedy “Los Roldan” (The Roldans) and a new version of Tinelli’s long-running variety program “El show de videomatch” (The Videomatch Show) — away from Telefe.

In February, Hadad and partner Raul Moneta hired Tinelli confidant Alejandro Stoessel away from the No. 3 slot at Telefe to run programming.

This is Hadad’s biggest push to gain audience since acquiring the broadcaster in 2002 from Telefonica and JPMorgan Chase. Until now, the focus has been on cutting costs to get out of bankruptcy protection on an estimated $21 million debt, most of it owed to studios.

But Canal 9 is determined to take back the top spot it held in 1984-90 and also boost its share of the $1.2 billion terrestrial television ad market, helping shore up its finances so it can buy more content and repay debt.

Gaining audience won’t come easy, says media specialist Pablo Sirven. “This year is going to be an all-out war” for ratings and ad coin, he says. “They are going to use every trick to lure viewers from their rivals and keep them tuned to their channel.”Tinelli is packing the second season of “Roldan” with celebs, including comic Enrique Pinti and rocker Cucho Parisi. And Canal 9 has scheduled “Paraiso rock” (Rock Paradise) about four siblings’ struggles to run their late father’s bar, and “Salvame Maria” (Save Me, Maria) a telenovela starring soap vet Andrea de Boca.

But Telefe won’t be easy to beat. Programming chief Claudio Villarruel, known for discovering new talent, is prepping local adaptations of “Married … With Children” and “Who’s the Boss?” after last year’s success with “The Nanny,” as well as gamers, miniseries and soaps.

And Canal 13, with actor-helmer-producer Adrian Suar in charge of programming, has potential hits including Mafia-drama “Hombres de honor” (Men of Honor) and Martian comedy “Una familia especial” (A Special Family).

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