China enters telenovela business

CCTV strikes deal with Mexico's Televisa

In a coup for the Mexican TV giant, Televisa inked a deal Wednesday at Cannes Mip TV mart to co-produce a telenovela with China Intl. TV Corp., the overseas arm of Chinese pubcaster behemoth CCTV.

The telenovela, structured at 40 segs per season, will be set in China and shot in Mandarin with a local cast, director and indie producer.

The title has yet to be selected, Televisa Intl. VP Fernando Perez Gavillan said at Cannes.

But Televisa and CCTV are spreading the net wide. It could be a redo of a Televisa property or a retread sourced from one of the Mexican web’s Latin American partners such as Colombia’s RCN (originators of “Ugly Betty”), Venezuela’s RCTV or Argentina’s Cris Morena Group, Pol-ka Prods. and Ideas del Sur.

“This is a big break for Televisa. We have worked very hard to establish a presence in the Chinese market,” Perez Gavillan said.

Televisa will take Spanish-language rights to the co-production. In a bold experiment, the Chinese production will air dubbed or subtitled in Latin America, Perez Gavillan said.

The deal rolls off upbeat results for the first two Televisa co-productions in China, said Francisco Ortiz, Televisa’s head of international production and sales.

Televisa co-produced its Mexican version of “Ugly Betty” with Beijing-based production house Nesound for Hunan TV while China’s Shanghai Media Group produced a local version of Televisa’s “Dumb Girls Don’t Go to Heaven,” which has rated fifth out of 35 shows in Chinese national TV ratings.

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