Deals help RTVE fill channels' programming blocks

MADRID — RTVE has a remit to support Spain’s local film and TV industries. So you wouldn’t expect it to showcase quality Yank fare.

Wrong.

The need to fill two channels has led it to sign volume deals with Warner Bros. Intl. TV and Buena Vista Intl. TV. The WB accord gives RTVE weekend children’s programming block “La Hora Warner” plus dramas and feature films. RTVE inked with Buena Vista on dramas, feature films and “Zon@ Disney,” another weekend tyke omnibus. With the deals come “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost,” “Six Feet Under” and “The OC.”

Launched last June on TVE-1 primetime, “Desperate Housewives” started slow but eventually averaged a 17.8% share and 1.9 million viewers.

“Lost’s” first season averaged 16.9%. “Housewives’ ” second season returned March 23.

“A series like ‘Desperate Housewives’ attracts new viewers without alienating more traditional audiences,” observes Pablo Carrasco, TVE director, programming and contents. International series have risen from 16.2% of TVE-1/La2 airtime in 2004 to 20.5% last year, per audience research company Corporacion Multimedia.

Both “The OC” and “Six Feet Under” record strong shares — 6.5% and 6.2%, respectively — on cultural service La2. “We have the possibility of buying next season’s ‘Housewives’ and ‘Lost,’ ” says Jose Luis Roncal, content director. Also, TVE will broadcast new seasons of “The West Wing” and has bought “One Tree Hill,” he adds.

Beyond WB and Disney, TVE-1 broadcasts U.S. titles from Paramount, having closed a pic package deal in 2004. It has reportedly also signed with Sony for library titles. But TVE-1’s most-watched pic in 2005 was French film “Les Choristes” (27.5% share) from art distrib Alta Films.

TVE launched international indie showcase “Off Cinema” in September 2004.

“With Manuel Perez Estremera’s appointment as TVE director, there’s been something of a return to airing indie films, which has given us hope,” says Alta prexy Enrique Gonzalez Macho.

“Recently, TVE has been the only channel buying indie auteur cinema,” echoes Miguel Morales, distribution director at arthouse Wanda Vision.

Mainstream indie distrib Manga Films signed a long-outstanding deal with RTVE on 22 of Manga’s theatrical releases over 2002-04.

RTVE’s main acquisition thrust, however, has been to increase Spanish movie pre-buys to some 60 Spanish films for 2005-’06, with a yearly investment of E34 million-E36 million ($40.5 million-$42.9 million).

In 2004 RTVE inked with producers lobby FAPAE to invest $14.3 million over three years in Spanish toon series. The pubcaster also has committed to purchase 10 docu pics through 2006.

Per Perez Estremera, “Spanish films are profitable to TVE because they fulfill a public-service function.”

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