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Telenovelas take Telemundo to top.

NBC's Spanish-language network Telemundo is claiming nighttime ratings victory on Mexican TV as it reaches a key milestone in its transition to becoming a globally active, content-driven company.

Its telenovelas have dominated ratings in the 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. time slot on Galavision, owned by Mexican broadcast giant Televisa, for more than a month.

The accomplishment is made even more remarkable considering the skeins are written and produced entirely outside of Mexico--a first in the land where Televisa and rival TV Azteca are more used to exporting their own content.

According to Telemundo CEO Dan Browne, the telenovela success hinges on a combination of hot, controversial themes ranging from surgically enhanced narco-prostitutes to anti-Muslim sentiment and human cloning; raising the quality of production to U.S. standards; and the good job Televisa has done marketing the shows in Mexico.

Two of its biggest hits, "Sin senos no hay paraiso" (Without Breasts There Is No Paradise) and "El Clon" (The Clone), are adaptations from Colombian and Brazilian formats, respectively, re-worked and remade using the conglom's own studios.

This is a TV model that has been stock and trade to Televisa, with the "Ugly Betty" phenom being the best-known example.

The ratings surge, which includes the network's original novela "Decisiones de mujeres" (Women's Decisions), comes at the two-year anniversary of Telemundo's content deal with Televisa to run five skeins per day on Galavision.

That deal is similar in nature to the content-sharing pact Televisa has had for years with U.S. web Univision that has made it the ratings king in Spanish-speaking demos Stateside.

For years, U.S. Latinos born in Mexico have carried over sentimental ties to hit novelas later aired by Univision.

Browne now sees a less nostalgic and more fan-generated type of cross-border relationship emerging in Mexico assisted by online activity.

"People are clearly talking back and forth. We see it on blogs, websites; people are comparing notes, talking about the characters," says Browne.

"El Clon" bowed in the U.S. on Feb. 15 and in Mexico on March 8. Browne happily notes that this is the first time they have had a show following so closely to its U.S. run.

"Clon" bowed last week in Panama and will be running in about 30 Latin American markets by the end of the year.

By JAMES YOUNG

MEXICO CITY

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Title Annotation:TELEVISION
Author:Young, James
Publication:Variety
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Apr 12, 2010
Words:395
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