Public broadcasting will target an underserved audience with the Spanish-language network V-me TV, which launches March 5.
Like PBS, the network will not contain advertising. The shows will be underwritten by corporate sponsors, presenting an opportunity for companies that want to "align with the integrity and credibility of the brand," said Carmen DiRienzo, president of the New York-based V-me (pronounced "veh-meh").
DiRienzo said V-me would be approaching companies and foundations that have invested in public broadcasting before and others that have a particular interest in reaching the broad Hispanic market. "So that you are, in essence, doing well by doing good," she said.
For now, Freddie Mac has signed on to fund daypart telenovela Nuestro Barrio. Financial literacy will be woven into the program, which will have its share of love triangles and other soap opera-like elements. Other corporate sponsors will be announced soon.
There will not be any product placements, DiRienzo was quick to add. "We honor and respect all of the FCC requirements around public broadcasting."
V-me will launch on 18 public TV stations serving cities with large Hispanic DMAs, or 60 percent of the U.S. Latino population. Public broadcasters that have a desire to serve Hispanics but often have a shortage of cash and cite lack of quality programming will benefit from V-me, DiRienzo said. Channels also will be able to customize programming to meet their communities' needs. Children's programming and a late-night talk show, Viva Voz, are among scheduled programs.
DiRienzo said she has tried to "breathe life" into the network for the past three years, which is about the same time she estimates it will take to turn a profit. — Nancy Ayala