There has never been so much time in-between posts in my blog. But, this semester has been particularly tough given my teaching schedule and my current case study, La Mujer Perfecta.
Last June, I wrote a post titled Is the Venezuelan telenovela dead? Today, December 17, we can say that it isn't dead and that it fights tooth and nail amidst an increasingly difficult and complex context:
- La Mujer Perfecta is the only Venezuelan telenovela on air in Venezuela. (Canal i broadcasts two older telenovelas: Abigaíl and Señora).
- La Mujer Perfecta has done an admirable job of recuperating the audience for the Venezuelan telenovela. Even though it competes with telenovelas produced by Telemundo that have a more expensive and sophisticated production. Furthermore, the latter are not subject to the Venezuelan restrictions of exchange controls and media content laws. .
- In addition to La Mujer Perfecta, Venevisión is producing La Viuda Joven written by Martín Hahn.
- According to reports, Televén has bought Que el cielo me explique written by Cristina Policastro, the last telenovela produced by RCTV Internacional. Its broadcast hasn't been announced yet.
- Meanwhile, Televén's program grid is a catalog of telenovelas made outside Venezuela. In some cases, Telemundo telenovelas have premiered first on Televen's screen than in the rest of the world. (Ojo por Ojo is the most recent example).
- The Venezuelan government has prohibited the broadcast of the so-called "narconovelas".
- President Hugo Chávez has requested extraordinary powers that would allow him to bypass the new National Assembly's approval. (He won't enjoy absolute majority in that new NA).
- The government has introduced in the current lame duck, all-chavista National Assembly a revised Media Content Law that would have important consequences for the telenovela industry. (If you read Spanish, you can read the full text here. Note, in particular: Artículo 7, numeral 3. Artículo 29, numeral 3, literal d. Artículo 35, disposiciones transitorias primera y segunda).
- Frequently, the government interrupts telenovelas to impose a cadena (mandatory broadcast of the government's signal on all radio and TV outlets). This makes more difficult the audience's followup of the dramatic structure. It also interferes with one of the most important characteristics of telenovela consumption: its inclusion in everyday life.
The situation is complicated and worrisome. If you understand Spanish, I recommend you listen to the following interview of Leonardo Padrón, author of La Mujer Perfecta. The interview was done by a Colombian radio station and his words explain the current situation: