ABC opts to offer all programming in Spanish

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Beginning September 19, ABC will offer its entire primetime entertainment lineup in Spanish--saying that it's the first English-language broadcast network to do so on such a large scale--through a combination of closed-captioning and dubbing.

Returning shows Housewives and Lost and new comedy Freddie will be dubbed, with casting under way for the actors who will voice the roles. In addition, George Lopez will continue to be dubbed as it has been since its 2001 premiere. The remainder of the network's primetime entertainment series will be available with Spanish subtitles.

ABC's longform programming and select specials also will be available in Spanish, including the upcoming TV movie Have No Fear: The Life of John Paul II, which will be dubbed, and Peanuts specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas. (The dubbed versions are available via the second audio program, or SAP, option on televisions; Spanish-subtitled versions will be found on closed caption 3 channel, or CC3.)

ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson said it was a "good time to take the steps" to reach more Spanish-speaking viewers.

"There's 41 million-plus Hispanics in the viewing market, and we're a broadcast network, so if we can reach more people, that's great," McPherson said.

He added that a test screening of Housewives for Spanish-speaking viewers who had never watched the series was met with overwhelmingly positive reaction.

"The show couldn't have gotten more press last year, but we were screening for people who hadn't seen the show," he said. "What was really interesting was we were trying to ask questions about the differences in subtitles and dubbing, and all they wanted to know was how to get more copies and whether the DVD was going to be available in Spanish."

Along with George Lopez, other ABC programming previously available in Spanish included major theatricals and this year's Oscar telecast. The theatricals also will continue to be dubbed, including the upcoming network premieres of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Finding Nemo, and Old School.

Additional reporting by The Hollywood Reporter.

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