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Univision lineup leans on Televisa shows

Company's upfronts include variety laffers

MIAMI — Although relations between Univision and Mexican media conglom Televisa have entered a glacier phase, Televisa telenovelas still fire up the U.S. Hispanic network’s primetime lineup, disclosed at its upfront presentation in Gotham on Wednesday.

And Univision continues to tout its place as the fifth-ranked broadcaster — averaging 2.2 million viewers 18-49 and 1.4 million aged 18-34 in primetime — and its inroads against the Big Four.

The company unveiled a format new to U.S. Spanish-language TV, an original latenight entertainment-variety show.

Univision is also extolling the value of the 2006 soccer World Cup — it has the Spanish-language exclusive rights to all 64 matches of the wildly popular tourney.

And it will go for season two of reality song competition “Objetivo fama,” Univision’s first foray into the reality genre.

The show aired January to early May on the group’s second broadcast net Telefutura to strong viewer response, and will return to Sunday nights.

But the big ratings winners will continue to be telenovelas from Televisa, supplied under a programming licensing accord good through 2017.

This comes despite the fact that earlier this month Televisa chair and CEO Emilio Azcarraga Jean ankled the Univision board and the Mexican conglom filed suit against Univision over disputed royalty payments related to the contract.

During the 2005-06 season, Univision will bow “El amor no tiene precio” (Love Is Priceless), Televisa’s first novela produced in the United States, lensed in Miami with production company Fonovideo.

Other novelas include “Contra viento y marea” (Against Wind and Tide), airing on Televisa’s Canal 2 at 8 p.m.; bull-fighting themed “Barrera de amor,” now filming in Mexico; “La esposa virgen” (The Virgin Bride), slated to bow on Canal 2 in July at 9 p.m.; “Piel de otono,” now on air at 5 p.m. in Mexico; and “Alborada” from the team behind international blockbuster “Amor real” (which also generated boffo ratings on Univision). “Alborada” is set during French occupation and rule of Mexico.

And talkshow queen Cristina Saralegui, in addition to her popular Monday night talker, will host a quarterly special to realize viewers’ dreams with “Cristina presenta: sonando contigo.”