Spanish TV turns onto French drama

Documentaries, animation also popular

MADRID — Drama series “Five Sisters” and “On the Edge” were standouts at Madrid’s 7th TV Rendez Vous, a yearly French TV showcase, organized by Gallic export company TV France Intl.

Family skein “Five Sisters” is co-produced by Marathon and France 2, while cop drama “On the Edge,” teamed France 2 with Son et Lumiere. “Edge” is being sold internationally by 2001 Audiovisuel.

While animation and docus traditionally drive French TV exports, French dramas have increased their attraction for Spanish buyers.

One reason given at the Rendez-Vous is the WGA work stoppage, which is encouraging Spain’s main free-to-air channels to turn their attention to European productions in order to stock inventories.

“We’re studying European series to fill possible holes that could be left by the strike. This showcase allows us to get up-to-date with French skeins before MIP,” Telecinco’s head of acquisitions Ghislain Barrois said.

“We’ve always bet on American product, but French action fare looks highly competitive,” La Sexta head of international acquisitions Enrique Lozano added.

But French sales of animation and docus remain strong in Spain. The country repped more than 12.7% of sales of French programs in Europe for 2006.

Among docus, climate and eco-content products were most on demand in Madrid.

Main deals at the two-day market, announced there or in its immediate wake:

— ZED has pre-sold to premium pay-box Canal Plus Spain the high-profile documentary “Desperate Wild Wives,” pitched as an animal version of U.S. drama “Desperate Housewives.”

— ZED has also closed HD docu “Becoming a Woman” with regional pubcasters TV3 and EITB, and thematic channels Natura and Odisea, which also has acquired from ZED a 30-hour documentary package.

— Nationwide pubcaster RTVE has taken a four-hour package of documentaries from Marathon.

— Barcelona-based Motion Pictures bought two docs about the climate change from Arte France.

— New DTT channel Libertad Digital TV inked with RFO on a package of documentaries, headed by “Cuba: La huella de Espana.”

— Basque Country pubcaster EITB bought suspense drama “Patricia McDonald” from the Carrere Group.

— Calt Intl., producer and seller of international hit TV comedy “Camera Café,” has reportedly inked with a Spanish partner to co-produce a local version of its short format “Kaamelott.”

— Calt sold short-episode humor series “Women!” to Sagrera TV.

— Sogecable thematic channel Viajar inked with French agency System TV on the lifestyle docu-series “Let’s All Go to the Beach.”

— Andalusian pubcaster Canal Sur took the series “Pirate Family” and “Spirou” from Media Toon.

“The arrival of new private broadcasters Cuatro and La Sexta and digital terrestrial television has made the Spanish market particularly vibrant and hungry for a wide range of product” TFI exec director Mathieu Bejot explained.