Telemundo programming chief Ramon Escobar has ankled the NBC unit to pursue a career as an indie producer.

He ends his 13-year tenure with the No. 2 U.S. Hispanic web on Dec. 31 and begins his first-look content development deal with Telemundo the next day. Accord includes the development and production of bilingual projects for Telemundo’s television, cable and Internet platforms.

“I’d been in talks with (Telemundo prexy) Don Browne for the past year about my future and feel now that the timing is right for me to develop my own projects and have the flexibility to deal with other companies,” he said.

While Telemundo has not confirmed Escobar’s replacement, Carlos Bardasano Jr., the programming development VP at Univision until last summer, has been consulting for the company in recent months, giving rise to rumors he will likely replace Escobar.

“I can’t comment on who it is, but my replacement is someone outstanding,” said Escobar, who has been taking steps to ensure a seamless transition. Bardasano Jr. served as programming veep at Telemundo from 2000-03.

Meanwhile, Telemundo’s Miami studio is kicking off production of telenovela “Dame chocolate” (Give Me Chocolate), which marks the return of actor-crooner Carlos Ponce to the Spanish-language TV screen. “Chocolate,” an original story by Perla Farias, is set to launch in the first quarter next year.