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Latin America’s terrestrials take on international kids fare

Brian Lacey of New York-based Lacey Entertainment sums up the difference in strategy between selling to the Latin American networks versus the satellite services by saying, '[satellite services] rely heavily on their corporate-owned program catalogs and studio output deals, whereas the...
May 1, 1999

Brian Lacey of New York-based Lacey Entertainment sums up the difference in strategy between selling to the Latin American networks versus the satellite services by saying, ‘[satellite services] rely heavily on their corporate-owned program catalogs and studio output deals, whereas the terrestrial channels rely on an acquisition strategy, frequently mixing popular American product with other sources, such as Japanese or European products.’

Canada is another source to which broadcasters turn for educational and gentler evergreen fare. Gillian Kirby, sales executive at Nelvana Enterprises in the U.K., says: ‘The local stations are interested in educational and entertaining children’s programming.’ In Brazil, Globo has acquired Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus, and in Mexico, Televisa has licensed Babar. Both shows were produced in Nelvana’s Toronto studio.

Educational programming offered by Australia-based Southern Star has also fared well in the region, says Cathy Payne, deputy head of television distribution at Southern Star Sales. Payne sold the new season of Barney and four one-hour Barney specials to Televisa in Mexico, and her sale of the series to Venezuela’s Televen station landed it at the top of the local ratings. The terrestrial rights for Wishbone, which Payne says ‘has always been a leader of the pack,’ have been sold to Argentina’s Exim Licensing Group, Ecuavisa in Ecuador and Bolivision in Bolivia, and Polarstar has landed terrestrial rights for Paraguay and Uruguay. Televisa picked up the feature film Wishbone’s Dog Days of the West.

Action adventure is another genre that sells well, says Andrew Berman, U.S. director of international sales at Tokyo’s TMS. Berman recently sold the Japanese product BMX to Televisa and TV Azteca. ‘Action-oriented boys animated series do well. Dragon Ball Z started a wave of popularity for Japanese animation in Latin America.’ Berman notes that even in a region thirsting for action product, ‘violence is definitely an issue.’

Even if a seller has the type of programming stations are looking for, that’s not all it takes to break through in a market driven by strong professional alliances and relationships. ‘Most networks are typically very loyal to their regular suppliers,’ says Catherine Branscombe, VP of international distribution for GoodTimes Entertainment. Building a strong local marketing presence is also critical, says Lacey. ‘The Pokémon series achieved a very strong lineup of broadcasters throughout Latin America, largely through the careful coordination of Hugo Rose of Televix Entertainment, who managed all of the conditions that are essential for the success of a kids TV series, such as launch dates, time periods, repeat schedules, local promotion and advertising tie-ins,’ Lacey explains.

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