In the recent 5th Congress of the Spanish Language, Jorge Ignacio Covarrubias, secretary of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language, presented a paper about telenovelas and the diffusion of the Spanish language. You can read here an article in Spanish about this. You can also read Mr. Covarrubias' presentation. For this research, Mr. Covarrubias interviewed telenovela writers, actors and producers. He also interviewed me and some of my students in my "Telenovelas, culture and society" class.
Posted by Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru at 6:57 PM Labels: Telenovela, Telenovela class, Telenovela consumption, Telenovelas, Telenovelas and culture and society Apr 27, 2010
Posted by Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru at 9:28 PM Labels: El Pais de las Mujeres, La Vida Entera, Telenovela, Telenovelas, Univision, Venezuelan telenovelas Apr 6, 2010
It's almost impossible to watch Venezuelan telenovelas in Univisión. Programming is designed to attract the U.S. Latino population, which is dominated by people of Mexican descent/origin.
The days in which Univision broadcast El País de las Mujeres (1999) at 2 p.m. are long gone. The Venezuelan "quota" is now the 1 p.m. slot, which is now destined to telenovelas produced by Venevisión-Miami (Venevisión Productions). Never by Venevisión-Venezuela. And telenovelas produced by RCTV are not even in the mix. Hence, we rarely find Venezuelan telenovelas in Univisión. And when we do, it's in some terrible time slot like 1 a.m.
For these reasons, I was happy to hear that my most recent object or study, La Vida Entera, is being broadcast by Univisión at 6 p.m. The time slot is somewhat problematic since it coincides with local newscasts in some cities. For instance, in Miami and San Diego the telenovela won't be seen. But, there are plenty of cities and urban centers in which the affiliated Univisión station doesn't have a newscast. For example, Atlanta. Notwithstanding this issue, the 6 p.m. slot is a big improvement compared with the wee hours of the morning, as was the case with telenovela Torrente.
But, the abuses that Univision commits regarding Venezuelan telenovelas aren't limited to scheduling:
- The synopsis of La Vida Entera on Univision's webpage is a faint image of the one written by the telenovela's author. The telenovela's essence is all but lost.
- For most of the day today my TV was on Univision. I didn't see a single promotional of the telenovela. La Vida Entera promotionals don't seem to exist. Hence, the telenovela doesn't seem to exist either.
- Every one hour episode is being edited so that it's duration is only 30 minutes. Therefore, edition is rough and brutal, and lacks respect for the story. My impression was that the editor only cares for the main love story of Kotufa, Salvador and Cristóbal (this is also reflected in Univision's published synopsis). The rest of the characters only show up in scenes in which they're related to the main triangle. By editing in this way the first two episodes, in which the writer and cast first draw characters and present plots, the telenovela loses coherence, meaning, dramatic structure and strength. In other words, a 120-hour telenovela is being dismembered into 60 meaningless hours.
Given all these factors, should we be surprised if La Vida Entera fails in the ratings? Of course not. When that happens, then it will be said that Venezuelan telenovelas don't work out well in Univision. And, it will be several years before another Venezuelan telenovela is given "a chance," always under adverse conditions that are close to impossible.
This is a sorry state of affairs that disrespects all who work in the Venezuelan telenovela industry and the public. It's also another factor in the current precarious situation of Venezuelan TV, which is caused by government measures intended to stifle dissent and by positions assumed by network administrators and owners.