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L.A. Screenings: Latin America

As local prod'ns dominate, buyers can be choosy

HOLLYWOOD — Latin American TV buyers are swooping down to the L.A. Screenings looking for programming to supplement their inhouse primetime fare.

Some, like Mexico’s Televisa and No. 2 web TV Azteca, as well as Brazil’s media titan Globo, are checking to see what their output deals will bring them this year. Televisa has deals with Warner, Universal and DreamWorks while Azteca enjoys one with Disney.

Globo has one with virtually all the studios except Warner Bros. Others, such as Argentina’s Artear TV, eschew output deals and prefer to cherry-pick the gamut of shows on offer.

With 70% of its programming taken up by local and inhouse productions, Artear is hard pressed to find room for U.S. shows. As a case in point, it has yet to find a slot for recently acquired Fox hit “House.”

“We’re mainly on the lookout for action-packed films and series, followed by kid-targeted and comedy features,” says Artear acquisitions chief Walter Sequiera.

Budgets remain the same. That can create problems, as nets must deal with the rising cost of product, especially high-profile pics.

“The studios don’t seem to understand that our ad markets can’t support the cost of these expensive films,” says Sequiera.

“No budget can resist a good idea,” counters Angel Orengo, Sony Intl.’s distribution VP for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Buyers are not afraid to spend when the product is interesting.” He expects high interest for Sony’s “The Da Vinci Code” which opens during the Screenings (although they won’t start sales talks yet) and for its new skein “Kidnapped,” both with themes that will resonate strongly in Latin America.

TV Azteca’s acquisitions chief Pedro Lascurain allots 80% of his budget, which has stayed the same the past three years, for product from the majors. “We’re always looking out for new ideas to produce,” he explains. Azteca recently bought the formats to “The Nanny” and “Beauty and the Geek.”

Sheila Hall, FremantleMedia’s Latin America sales VP, has noticed interest growing for retro and factual programming, having sold “Mr. Bean” and cooking show “Oliver’s Twist” to the likes of TV Azteca.

Pedro Leda of Leda Films, the official Latin American sales agent for DreamWorks and now Paramount, has not seen a big change in programming demands from the region’s free TV webs.

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