Classes have ended and I'm in the midst of the delicate and difficult job of grading. This has kept me away from my blog for a whole week.
One of the recent happenings in the telenovela world that has stirred some commotion is that Telefutura has moved RCTV's telenovela Mi Prima Ciela from 5 p.m. to a half-hour slot at 9 a.m. This is a worse time and it also messes up the one-hour dramatic structure of each episode. In the place of Mi Prima Ciela, Telefutura is now broadcasting the decade-old version of La Usurpadora produced by Televisa. (An abridged version of this telenovela can be bought in DVD format).
In Univisón's message boards there were adverse reactions to this change as participants clamored that Mi Prima Ciela wouldn't be moved in the schedule: 1 y 2. Some bloggers, like Tania Azevedo also mentioned their unhappiness. Meanwhile, both in the message board TVVI and in Recordar es Vivir (1, 2, 3) participants theorized about the reasons behind Telefutura's decision. Some advanced conspiracy theories involving Cisneros, owner of Venevisión, RCTV's direct competitor in Venezuela.
Personally, I dislike both the change in the schedule and the treatment that Mi Prima Ciela has received in Telefutura. But, I'm not surprised at all. I disregard conspiracy theories about Venevisión having part on this, because Venevisión's telenovelas have also been victims of similar abuses in the Spanish-speaking TV here in the United States. The tendency by Univisión and its associated networks, (Telefutura and Galavisión), to treat Venezuelan telenovelas as second-class products is, by now, old. We know that prime time is reserved exclusively for Televisa telenovelas. But, through the years we have witnessed the invisibility of Brazilian telenovelas in their schedules and the rough and disrespectful way in which they have edited Venezuelan telenovelas such as El País de las Mujeres, Sueño con tu amor (Los Querendones), Amor a Palos and Amantes. We've also seen how Amantes de Luna Llena was broadcast in the humiliating 1 a.m. time slot. And, of course, we know they don't provide any space for any Venezuelan telenovela they classify as "localista". This fluid term is now equal to telenovelas made in Venezuela. (The main love story in Mi Prima Ciela is as universal as it gets--death as the antagonist--a plot we've seen and will keep seeing both in film and literature).
Of course, the background of this is the agreement between RCTV and Telefutura that allows the broadcasting in the latter of telenovelas produced by the former, albeit in the terrible conditions I'm discussing here.
Many will argue that if Mi Prima Ciela didn't garner good ratings at 5 p.m, it had to be taken out. However, I've seen my share of telenovelas at 5 p.m. with poor ratings that were never moved from that tiem slot. Of course, none of them were Venezuelan or Colombian. .
Mi Prima Ciela's schedule change is symptomatic of some of the worrisome trends I see in the market. In the U.S. there's a sort of re-education of the spectator in which audiences are only exposed to a particular type of telenovela. I know well that the Latinos of Mexican descent make up the majority of the Hispanic market. But, similarly to what happens in Mexico, these audiences only watch the same type of telenovela (and their remakes). Telenovelas deemed "different" are either stigmatized as "localistas", edited to the point of destroying their essence, or moved to terrible time slots, as in the case of Mi Prima Ciela.