Spain: With lineup to fill, newcomer Cuatro ready to shop

Mipcom 2005: Territory report

MADRID — When Mipcom arrives, Spanish TV’s most active player should be Cuatro, Sogecable’s new terrestrial broadcaster. It will have three months to fill an empty slate of programming.

“They’re cleaning up what’s left,” says Ghislain Barrois, commercial rival Telecinco’s head of acquisitions. “I think they’d be happy with an 8 rating. If we got an 8, we’d all be fired.”

After winning the year for the first time in 2004, Telecinco has remained the leader with a strong 2005. “We cut S10 million ($12 million) from last year’s acquisition budget to $21.6 million just by reducing the intake of costly feature films,” Barrois explains.

With the “CSI” franchise’s continued success, Telecinco is looking for more drama series and TV movies. “Forget sitcoms, not just for us, but for all of Spain,” Barrois adds.

Spain’s other private network, Antena 3, will be looking for movies at Mipcom. “Our audience numbers say that films on TV are far from dead,” says Mercedes Gamero, Antena 3’s head of acquisitions.

A3 won’t be too high on series. “For the last three years, prices on series have gone down,” Gamero explains, “but it’s a difficult product to place in our lineup.”

Telecinco doesn’t share that problem.

“They used to be the plague but American series are now a viable option for primetime or weekend afternoons,” says Barrois.

Catalonia’s ratings winner, TVC, heads up Spain’s regional network group Forta.

TVC will be looking for animation, series with an edge and a long-running escapist drama such as “Murder, She Wrote” for afternoons. “There’s little difference between the top four in Catalonia,” Blanch remarks. “One primetime hit can make the difference.”

For nearly 50 years, pubcaster RTVE dominated. Now, it’s an also-ran. “RTVE is lost in space,” says Telecinco’s Barrois. “They have soccer but they’ve lost their edge.”

One of RTVE’s few edgy shows, “Desperate Housewives,” has been a disappointment as the network struggles to wear two faces: PBS-style public servicer and ad-financed audience winner.