TV Azteca puts $55 million in new studios

CEO: Investment to increase telenovela production capability

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican network TV Azteca is investing $55 million on seven new state-of-the-art studios at its existing Azteca Novelas production facility.

Azteca chief executive Mario San Roman told reporters on the sidelines of a Monday inauguration event that production volume of dramatic content will increase by 40% when the additional studios become fully operational in 2011. Mexico's No. 2 broadcaster churns out about 1,300 hours of soaps annually, a large chunk of which is currently at Azteca Novela's five studios.

The increased production capacity will allow Azteca to bump up its telenovela programming grid to six hours daily.

The ambitious project features studio grounds covering 5,700 square meters, cutting-edge editing and sound rooms, a heliport and a solar-powered electrical system. The largest of the seven studios will be used to film live events, such as musical reality contests. San Roman said all telenovela productions will be shot in high-definition by the time the new soundstages are up and running.

Due to the growing worldwide demand for telenovelas, Azteca's overflow production is often shot at state-run Estudios Churrubusco, a TV and film production facility in Mexico City. TV Azteca president Ricardo Salinas said the upgrades are "a considerable investment," yet he added that it will make Azteca Novelas more streamlined in the long term.