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Univision’s visin

Spanish-lingo b'caster adds telepix to slate

Univision is getting into the movie business.

The nation’s dominant Spanish-lingo broadcaster unveiled plans to add original telefilms to its primetime lineup this fall in Wednesday’s upfront sked presentation to advertisers in Gotham.

The newly formed Univision Prods. banner will produce 10 to 12 made-fors a year, some of which will be released as theatrical titles in Latin America. Some of the telepics will be produced domestically, while others may be done in partnership with Latin American production outfits.

Principal photography on four pics has already been completed, Univision Entertainment prexy Mario Rodriguez said, stressing that the made-fors will feature top-flight production values and stars.

“The competitive screenplays range from comedy to drama to adventure, starring popular talent from TV, records and films,” he said.

Rodriguez also revealed that the web is embarking on a new image campaign to brand Univision as the “home of the stars.”

“We have created a more modern, clean and sleek Univision as we reinforce the message our audience has so enthusiastically applauded,” Rodriguez said. “Our exciting new promotions and marketing campaigns will reveal the new Univision as young and energetic as our audience and as star-studded as our programming.”

Such talk of a “young and energetic” new Univision probably comes in response to the attention paid by the mainstream U.S. media in recent months to Univision’s distant competitor, the Telemundo web, which was taken over by Sony Pictures Entertainment last year.

Despite Telemundo’s multi-million-dollar makeover, Univision gained market share this past season — boasting an amazing 93% share of the Spanish-lingo TV market during the February sweep.

Telemundo has flopped in its effort to attract the younger, bilingual Hispanic aud with U.S.-style sitcoms and dramas, and the web plans to veer back to the primetime telenovelas that are a staple of Latin American TV.

Univision, however, has the domestic lock on the most popular telenovelas through its alliances with Mexico’s Grupo Televisa and Venezuela’s Venevision, both of which are major investors in Univision. Rodriguez announced Wednesday that Univision has inked an exclusive telenovela pact with Peru’s America TV.

In the presentation to some 900 advertising execs, web execs cited Nielsen data showing that Univision is competitive with the Big Four broadcast webs — as well as popular cablers like MTV, Lifetime CNN and ESPN — in terms of total audience delivery and targeted demos like teens, femmes and adults 18-49.

Univision’s crusade over the past few years has been to bridge the significant gap in advertising rates between English- and Spanish-lingo TV.

On the programming front, Univision next season will zero in on the teen market with a telenovela, “Sonadoras” (Dreamgirls), whose logline sounds like something that might be found on the youth-driven WB Network: “Emilia, Julia, Jackie and Lucia: Each one has a special dream, but life gets in the way.”

Other new programs in the works include “Vision TV,” a hard-hitting newsmag skedded for 10 p.m. Friday, and comedy series from Latin American stars Hector Suarez and Julio Sabala.