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Azteca Amrica Unveils 2008-2009 Lineup

In a radical shift from last year’s upfront presentation, Azteca América this year is pitching programming “Made in Mexico” but tailored to U.S. Hispanic audiences.

The network, which this year also decided to skip its usual New York City upfront event in favor of client-meetings nationwide, is putting shows and newscasts from Mexico-based TV Azteca at the forefront of its programming strategy.

Azteca América’s slate for 2008-2009 includes three new telenovelas, five reality shows and two sitcoms, all made in Mexico, with product integration opportunities built into the original scripts. But it also is pitching a revamped newscast shot and produced at its headquarters in Mexico City, which features special segments and content targeting Hispanics living in the U.S.

“It is a completely different message [from last year’s upfront presentation,]” said Bob Turner, Azteca América president of sales. “But we are certain our audiences can really identify with the content.”

In contrast, Azteca América last year stressed the importance of shooting reality show Suegras in Miami as a program with “relevant” content made specifically for the U.S. audience.

One exception to the Mexico-made concept is Juez Franco, a Judge Judy-type of courtroom face-off which is shot in front of a live audience in Los Angeles and is produced by Proenza de la Paz Entertainment. Juez Franco, which premiered April 28, is hosted by Judge Manuel Franco, the Mexico-born judge-turned TV host, who for years presided over La Corte del Pueblo (The People’s Court) on Telemundo.

Juez Franco will serve as a preamble to introduce our primetime lineup,” Azteca América executive VP of programming and production Harry Abraham-Castillo said in a prepared statement.

Castillo, Turner and other Azteca América executives are currently touring the nation, introducing the network’s 2008-2009 lineup to agencies and marketers in key Hispanic markets.