'El Comisario' will replace film slot

MADRID — Commercial web Telecinco, the highest-rated Spanish broadcaster in 2004, is dropping its Friday-night “5 Star Cinema,” the longest-running U.S. film slot on Spanish terrestrial TV and Telecinco’s last primetime window for movies.

This underscores the web’s move from acquired programming to drama series, usually locally made.

Beginning today, it will be replaced by local cop drama “El Comisario” (The Police Inspector).

“Movies are losing TV audiences but rising in costs. They don’t have a commercial logic any more,” said Telecinco head of contents Manuel Villanueva.

He added that a U.S. movie now costs the same as 22 episodes of “CSI,” and that the cost of local drama is on average 60% that of a U.S. film.

Channel director Alberto Carullo believes local fiction primes audience loyalty toward Telecinco.

“5 Star Cinema” will be pulled for three months and then a decision will be made about its future. Telecinco will maintain its long-term deals with DreamWorks, Spyglass, Hyde Park and New Line (via Spanish indie TriPictures).

The ratings decline of U.S. pics on Spanish broadcasters is a long-term trend.

The most-seen movie on Spanish TV in 1994 was “Pretty Woman,” with 9.2 million viewers. In 2004, it was “Jurassic Park III,” with 5.4 million. No movies figured among Spain’s top 30 TV programs last year.

According to CEO Paolo Vasile, Spanish fiction will occupy 80% of Telecinco’s total fiction airtime in 2005.

Telecinco raised its fiction production budget (excluding TV movies) by 36.5% to E62.4 million ($82.4 million) in 2004 and has earmarked $87.1 million for 2005.

This year it will shave $5 million-$10 million off its $90 million acquisition budget for U.S. pics.

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