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Telemundo Follows Fox, Sony With Colombian TV Producer Stake

Sept 30--NBC Universal's Spanish-language network, Telemundo, followed News Corp.'s (NWSA) Fox and Sony Corp. (6758.TO) in buying stakes in Colombian TV production firms to take advantage of local creativity, skills and low cost.


Telemundo bought a 40% stake in RTI for an undisclosed amount, Don Browne, Telemundo's President, told reporters Tuesday. The company will produce TV shows, mainly soap operas, to be broadcast in the U.S. by Telemundo, and will offer those shows all over the world, Browne said.

"There is good talent, Bogota is a great place to work, costs are very competitive and the quality is outstanding," Browne told Dow Jones.

RTI, until now owned by local businessmen, used to supply Telemundo with shows produced in its studio in Bogota. The two companies had also jointly built another studio in Miami, but RTI sold its stake in that venture to Telemundo in 2005.

Telemundo, the world's second-largest producer of Spanish-language TV shows, is owned by NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co (GE).

Over the past few years, Colombia's TV producers have expanded and acquired regional renown after producing worldwide blockbusters, such as the original version of Ugly Betty earlier in the decade and several other major hits in Latin America.

The cozy duopoly of Colombian TV Channels RCN Television SA (RCNTELEVI.BO) and Caracol Television SA (CARACOLTV.BO) allowed the two firms to pocket hefty advertising revenues in a market of 45 million people, and reinvest that money in ambitious soap operas that sold well in and beyond the region.

Sony bought a 50% stake in Teleset, another TV studio in Bogota, in January this year. Teleset produces soap operas and reality shows for local TV channel RCN and a show with a cast of Latin American actors for the Spanish-language version of the Nickelodeon cable channel.

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