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California and the West

Spanish-language network set to launch

February 08, 2007|Lorenza Munoz | Times Staff Writer

Public television will now have its own 24-hour Spanish-language network.

V-me, pronounced veh-meh, will be available to people with basic digital cable service, giving Spanish-language viewers an alternative to the popular telenovelas that have made the Univision network popular. V-me will offer viewers programming on such subjects as child care and yoga. It will air a Charlie Rose-like interview show.

V-me, which means "look at me" in Spanish, will be broadcast by 18 public television stations nationwide when it launches next month. It will be available in cities with large Latino populations such as Los Angeles, San Antonio, New York and Miami.

The network speaks to the growth of the U.S. Latino population. V-me's programming will not serve up the steamy novelas and scandalous talk shows that are staples of Spanish-language television on such TV outlets as Univision, a unit of Los Angeles-based Univision Communications Inc.

Instead, the network will attempt to create entertaining and educational shows that give its Spanish-speaking viewers tools for assimilation. For instance, V-me will broadcast the popular daytime show now televised on KCET called "Los Ninos en Su Casa," which offers tips on child rearing and how to prepare children for kindergarten.

"What we are aiming for is to fill the gap that we have found when we look at the programming available," V-me President Carmen DiRienzo said. "It reflects and respects the intelligence of these people who will soon be 50 million strong."

The network is financed by merchant banking group Baeza Group and private equity group Syncom Funds.

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lorenza.munoz@latimes.com

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