RAI, Europroducciones partnership targets high-end prod'ns

MADRID — Italian pubcaster RAI and Spanish production house the Europroducciones Group have inked an alliance on acquisition, production and distribution.

The deal draws on the same Spanish-Italo axis central to Spain’s terrestrial broadcaster Telecinco, controlled by Italy’s Mediaset; and Spanish rival Antena 3, run by DeAPlaneta, a joint venture of publishing groups Planeta (from Spain) and Italy’s DeAgostini.

RAI goes in for high-profile collaborations. It’s teaming with HBO on “Rome,” and accesses Luc Besson-produced pics through a distribution-production alliance with Gaul’s EuropaCorp.

But the Europroducciones tandem is RAI’s first framework accord with a private-sector player, says RAI Trade prexy Roberto Di Russo.

The partnership targets high-end production: opera and event programming, niche channel and institutional formats, soundtracks and music for formats and event specs, minis and series, scientific and cultural entertainment formats.

The deal formalizes a de facto relationship. Spain’s leading light-entertainment/telenovela producer, Europroducciones already produces programs for RAI, such as romantic reality show “Diglielo in faccia.”

The deal plays off economies of scale: Europroducciones has just produced a gamer pilot for Italy and Spain in RAI facilities. It furthers Europroducciones prexy Arturo Vega’s ambitions of hiking overseas revenues.

Much of the duo’s biz is likely to turn on reformatting.

“RAI has produced a series of important cultural programs that could yield a Spanish-language version,” Europroducciones executive VP Francesco Boserman says.

Europroducciones is a reversioning specialist. It produced German format “You Bet” for Spain’s TVE-1 and RAI Uno, and made over a Televisa telenovela script for Spanish soap “The Secret.”

The alliance is driven by longer-term aims. Stymied by the lack of a large overseas Italian-language market, Italian companies hanker after Latin America and see Spain as the natural gate into the region.

“The European cultures closest to each other are Spain and Italy,” Di Russo says. “But the Spanish-speaking world is far larger than the Italian. Spain can be a bridge into it.”

Last year, RAI announced an IPO, and since IPOs are international by the nature of stock markets , RAI needs an international road map. The Europroducciones deal gives it some direction.

Now, however, having talked the talk, comes the hard part, walking the walk — via producing marketable shows. A first project is expected to be announced at the Mip TV mart in Cannes this week.

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