BUENOS AIRES — Marcelo Tinelli shook up Argentina’s broadcast TV industry twice this year.
First, the host-producer left Telefe for Canal 9, taking the net to second place. Then he moved to Artear-Canal 13, where he signed a contract through 2009 and is expected to lead the net to the ratings summit.
Tinelli, 45, made his name hosting the hottest entertainment program of the past 15 years, now called “ShowMatch,” and producing hits such as “Los Roldan” (The Roldans) and “Los Tumberos” under his Ideas del Sur banner.
His latest move is expected to return the TV landscape to the two-network competition of 1990-2004, with a tighter contest between Grupo Clarin’s Artear-Canal 13 and Telefonica’s Telefe, leader of the past 15 years.
Artear must be first in order to pull in enough ad coin to cover its contract with Tinelli and maintain its current comedies and dramas, says media analyst Pablo Sirven. Top shows include soccer legend Diego Maradona’s entertainment program “La noche del 10” (The Night of the 10) and police comedy “Sin codigo” (No Code).
Telefe has kept ahead thanks to afternoon telenovelas and retreads of U.S. sitcoms “Who’s the Boss?” and “Married … With Children” in primetime. It plans to adapt “Bewitched” next year and air Cuatro Cabezas’ sarcastic news roundup “Caiga quien caiga”; hospital docu “E24”; and programming from Cris Morena Group, known for hit teen shows like “Floricienta.” Morena’s shows currently air on Artear.
The battle might lead to bland lineups, as the leaders skirt riskier content for certain hits from inhouse and associate production shops, says Damian Kirzner, a managing partner of production company Fatto in Casa.
This could allow Canal 9 and America TV to woo viewers with fresh alternatives, he adds. This year, America had success with “Doble vida” (Double Life) and Canal 9 with “Salvame Maria” (Save Me, Maria), but heavy debts will likely keep the channels’ schedules packed with cheaper gamers and yakkers.
Imports, meanwhile, will continue to be limited to nonprimetime fillers and weekends, particularly films, telenovelas and docs.
While three years of robust economic growth have bolstered ad coin, most production money is going into domestic primetime fare because it pulls in the most revenue, says Walter Sequeira, acquisition manager at Canal 13.
“Imported material has virtually disappeared from the week,” Sequeira says.