Regional Report: Catalonia

Catalan pubcaster TVC is weathering Spain’s TV ad storm and market fragmentation better than most Spanish state television networks. It led Spain’s regional pubcaster rankings with a 14.8% share in 2010, according to audience research company Barlovento Comunicacion.

Despite burgeoning DTT services in Spain, core channel TV3’s 2011 share is holding well at 14.2%, just 0.6 percentage points below last year.

Nor has TVC been forced to turn is back on high-end period fiction after period mini “Ermessenda, Queen of Kings” and “The Voices of the Pamano” notched high ratings for TV3.

Of new skeins, the Brutal Media-produced miniseries “We Shall Return” turns on Catalans who fled Spain after its Civil War, ending up fighting for the Free French Forces.

“Barcelona, Neutral City,” another two-part mini, which is co-produced with Prodigius Cinema, turns on an other-side-of-the-tracks love during World War I Barcelona.

Such series score a dual achievement, says TVC head of co-productions Susanna Jimenez: They explore Catalonia’s historical heritage and hit high ratings.

Yet TVC ad sales were, year-on-year, 34% down in 2009, and another 10% off in 2010. That has an effect. TV3 has committed to a minimum E16 million ($22 million) investment in Catalan fiction, animation, documentary and features.

Actual investment reached $25 million in 2009, $23 million last year and is tabbed at $22 million for 2011, Jimenez says.

TVC’s core demography is also aging, currently at fiftysomething, middle class and living in small- or medium-sized cities, says TV analyst Manuel de Luna.

So TVC is looking to revamp its content, sked and sales slate.

“We’re boosting younger-skewing productions, which has always been a challenge for us,” says Victor Carrera, TVC head of international relations. First fruit of this policy is “The Red Band Society,” “Lucky and Fred” and “Rice Pudding.”

Directed by Pau Freixas (“Forever Young”) and written by Albert Espinosa, the seriocomedic fiction drama “Society” turns on five boys and a girl who are treated in the same hospital for different illnesses. It averaged 500,000 viewers and a 15.7 share.

Helmed by Kike Maillo (“Eva”) and Luis Fabra, “Rice” is a coming-of-age toon series produced by Escandalo. Spanish toon house Imira Entertainment has picked up international rights.

Animated short comedy series “Jokebox,” co-produced by Kotoc, and “I’m Grown Up … but Not Quite!” from Triacom Audiovisual, also target younger auds.

Also on TV3’s Mipcom slate — and twinning new technology and its history of serving the public interest — is 3D docu-special “Enxaneta” explores Catalonia’s two-century-old tradition of mounting human towers.

REGIONAL REPORT: CATALONIA
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