Raventos rides TV biz changes

Former Endemol exec to launch Atomis Media

MADRID — Isabel Raventos, the highest-ranking woman in Spanish TV, is ankling as Endemol’s Madrid-based chief operating offcer (Latin America) to go independent.

She and producer-director Sergi Schaaff will launch light entertainment/fiction banner Atomis Media this week, with plans to unveil its first entertainment projects this summer.

Atomis initially will produce for Spain, Raventos says, before looking to the international market.

The exit of Raventos, who also held the title of international COO at Endemol’s Spanish production company Gestmusic Endemol, could be chalked up to Spain’s glass ceiling. However, it’s also a sign of the times in Spain’s TV biz.

In 2001, TV advertising plunged 8% year-on-year to 2.1 billion euros ($2.5 billion).

By late 2001, the broadcasters were leaning on producers to scythe some 25% of drama budgets and commissioning swaths of gossip shows: One example, “Salsa Rosa” fills 4½ hours Saturday nights on commercial web Tele 5.

A generation of execs tapped in the booming 1990s to shake up programming has had to sit out a dumbing-down of content and restrictions in innovation.

There are signs that auds are tiring of more-of-the-same. This season’s TV sensations have been well-written dramas such as “CSI” and the homegrown “Cuentame como paso.”

“Six Feet Under” has been playing above its channel TVE-2’s 6.9 average share; docu “La odisea de la especie,” a Spanish co-prod, scored almost four million viewers on TVE-1.

“There’s a saturation of spinoffs and derivatives. We think there’s room for fresh, different shows,” Raventos says. Atomis plans to buy them from abroad or create them itself.

All of Spain’s pubcasters could be set for management changes after regional elections this year and general elections in 2004.

Enter Raventos and Schaaff.

Raventos cut her TV teeth in the early 1980s editing and reporting for “Informe Semanal,” still a highpoint of public service broadcasting in Spain. The Barcelona-based Schaaf directs quiz “Saber y ganar” (Know and Win), Spain’s longest-running show.

“Professionals who can make entertainment programs are at a premium in Spain,” Raventos says. “The channels will change, if slowly, depending partly on the projects involved. But it’s time for change, and there’s an audience for something different.”

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