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MipTV: RTVE, Onza’s ‘Department of Time’ Discovers Chinese TV Market

Televisa's Blim nabs Latin American exclusive OTT rights to Spanish time-travel skein

In a pioneering move for Spanish TV fiction exports, Madrid’s Onza Distribution has sold to Beijing-based company Guan Yue International Chinese remake rights on pubcaster RTVE‘s time-travel drama “The Department of Time.”

In parallel, RTVE’s commercial arm, which handles series’ original production sales, has licensed Latin American exclusive OTT rights to Blim, TV giant Televisa’s new SVOD service.

One of the biggest primetime fiction bets by RTVE’s core channel La 1, the skein, now in its second season, is produced by Cliffhanger TV and Onza Entertainment, and co-created and written by Javier Olivares.

“The Department of Time” departs from an original premise: There is a secret department since the time of the Catholic Kings, in 15th century Spain, which allows people to travel into the past.

The civil servants working in the department are in charge of watching the time doors, with the aim of preventing any intruder from the past entering in the present – or vice versa – to change the course of history to their own benefit.

Series’ format has been already optioned in the U.S. by former Fox Television Studios chief Emiliano Calemzuk and by Rodrigo Ordonez, co-founder of Mexican  prodco Room Service, in Latin America.

A Portuguese version, produced by outfits Veralia and Inizio Media, has been ordered by pubcaster RTP.

The Chinese TV remake deal, the first on a Spanish TV drama, represents a milestone for Spanish TV fiction, which recently started to enjoy a format export boom after years of local TV primetime dominance.

“I’m so happy to bring this fantastic series to China. China has a long history. We’ll do our best to make a successful series for Chinese audience”, said Yan He, managing director at Guan Yue International.

At MipTV, “The Department of Time” has also garnered large interest from buyers from further key international territories. Per Onza Distribution general director Gonzalo Sagardia, an Italian deal is being closed; a German pact is totally agreed to; in France, Onza is studying several offers.

“We are extremely pleased. First, because if China recognizes that this is an adaptable TV format, this means that it can also be adapted by any other country in the world. Second, because we have three of the largest European countries virtually closed, although the U.K., a more complex market, is still open, though we are battling to license the format there,” Sagardia said.

As a completed production, RTVE has sealed series’ lineal TV deals in Mexico, Uruguay and El Salvador, according to Rafael Bardem, RTVE’s deputy director, programs and products sales.

“Because of its unusual theme, [“The Department of Time”] was a risky bet which fortunately has paid of well. We are very happy with the RTVE version,” he added.

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