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Telemundo Slugs It Out With Univision

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A new prime-time battleground between the two largest Hispanic broadcast networks will take place Saturdays this fall when Telemundo challenges Univision's 20-year-old variety show institution Sábado Gigante with its own variety entry, El Gran Show (The Great Show).

While Univision execs and Sábado Gigante's creator and host Mario Kreutzberger (aka Don Francisco) were touting the show's long, successful history at the network's upfront presentation last week, Telemundo execs labeled it "tired" and ready for an alternative.

Ray Rodriguez, president and COO of Univision Communications, bristled at any negative characterization of Sábado Gigante. "The wonderful thing is that this show is never the same from week to week despite it being one of the most-watched shows on Hispanic television," Rodriguez said.

The two networks will also do battle in daytime next season when both introduce afternoon novelas for the first time. Telemundo will premiere Cuatro Rosas (Four Roses), about four friends who experience life, love, companionship and betrayal. Univision will offer Mi Vida Eres Tu (You Are My Life), centering on a troubled radio personality who gives on-air advice.

Each network will also add a daytime game show next season: Univision will add ¡Buenas Tardes!, and Telemundo will offer Buena Fortuna.

Both are also offering cross-platform ad opportunities. Telemundo advertisers can package across Telemundo, mun2, its cable network, and its new Yahoo!/Telemundo Web site. Univision advertisers can package across Univision, TeleFutura (its other broadcast net), Galavision (cable net), Univision Radio, Univision Music Group and online.