Azteca U.S. is made in Mexico

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Azteca America will introduce three novelas, five reality shows and two sitcoms, all produced in Mexico, to its U.S. network lineup for the 2008-09 season.

At its upfront presentation Tuesday, the network said all of its shows, including the novelas, will have product-integration opportunities for advertisers that can be built into the original scripts.

Said Azteca: "By utilizing TV Azteca's state-of-the-art studios in Mexico, we will be able to give U.S. Hispanic viewers and advertisers what they want: original stories, stellar casts, beautiful sets, top-notch production value and, most importantly, the ability to integrate products and brands into the content of our TV shows from the very early stages when the scripts of telenovelas and rundowns of entertainment shows are being designed."

The Azteca news operation also is getting a makeover. News out of Mexico will be shot at Fuerza Informativa Azteca in Mexico City, giving viewers faster access to breaking news. Azteca has 32 news bureaus and 108 reporters.

Azteca also will bring back Mexican soccer, La Liga Azteca, Futbol Mexicano, with Jorge Campos as the network's new announcer.

"This year we will fully integrate with TV Azteca to deliver programming with our core sensibility, Hecho en Mexico (Made in Mexico), but tailor-made for our audience and clients in the U.S.," said Harry Abraham-Castillo, exec vp programming and production at Azteca America.

Separately, TV Azteca on Wednesday said it is set to launch Azteca Novelas, a 24-hour pay TV channel that will feature exclusive programming of the network's popular soaps.

Azteca said that the new channel will bow throughout Latin America and Europe on July 1 and hit pay TV systems in the U.S. several months later.

About 50 pay TV systems are lined up thus far, according to international sales vp Marcel Vinay, including Telglobe for various markets in Central America. They also are negotiating with Imagenio and Jazztelia in Spain.

The channel will broadcast a six-hour programming block that will run four times a day.

John Hecht in Mexico City contributed to this report. John Consoli is a reporter for MediaWeek.
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