NBC Universal's U.S. Spanish language network Telemundo has signed an exclusive programming license agreement to have its content distributed in Mexico through Televisa, the giant Mexican network. The distribution deal includes broadcast TV, PayTV and emerging digital platforms.

The deal is effective from April, when Televisa's Channel 9 will broadcast more than 1,000 hours a year of Telemundo original programming.

The agreement is a concession of sorts. Telemundo has long tried to launch a network in Mexico but hasn't been allowed to do so. Currently, Televisa dominates the Mexican airwaves with Azteca as its main competitor.

The current alliance will allow Telemundo programs to reach a potentially vast audience. It also raises the ante for Telemundo shows, which will now be seen not only by a bigger audience but by a Mexican audience that is crucial for the popularity of artists in the United States. Telemundo will air this year's Billboard Latin Music Awards.

Here, Univision is the ample market leader in Spanish language television viewership and distribution and its shows regularly rank among the top rated in the country, in any language.

But the Telemundo deal comes at a time when Televisa has been trying to end its long term programming agreement with Univision. Currently, Univision receives the bulk of its programming, including most of its soaps, from Televisa. The exclusive deal is scheduled to run through 2017, but Televisa is trying to end it before that, with the case set to go to trial next month.

The tension between the two companies came to a boil last year after Univision was sold to private investors. Teleivsa, which owned a minority stake in the company, had also bid for the media giant.

By Leila Cobo, Miami

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