V-me TV to Launch March 5

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Following a name change and several months of delays, Spanish-language multicast channel V-me TV ("See-me TV") is now scheduled to launch March 5.

The network will be available in some 60% of Hispanic households right off the bat -- an unusually high ratio for a Spanish-language startup.

“Because we have such stupendous distribution, we are able to jump ahead of many other similar efforts,” V-me TV senior vice president and chief content officer Guillermo Sierra said.

The network’s mix of factual, kids’ and lifestyle programming, in addition to movies, means the service will compete head-to-head during different dayparts with a broad range of existing channels such as Discovery en Español and History Channel en Español.

PBS stations across the country reached an agreement with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association in 2005, which ensured that at least one local PBS analog signal, plus four digital channels, would be carried by each of the major cable operators.

The service will also be available on Verizon’s FiOS TV video service.

V-me TV -- first announced in October 2005 under the name "Viva TV" -- was originally scheduled for a fall-2006 launch. As recently as last June, that name was still in use in PBS press releases. Viva TV, though, happens to be the name of a German music-television channel and very similar to the name of a Filipino television-production company.

The network name was changed "to avoid brand confusion" according to president Carmen DiRienzo, who added that V-me TV is "a name and a mark that could be uniquely our own."

The Educational Broadcasting Corp. -- which holds the license for New York public broadcaster Thirteeen/WNET -- is a minority investor in V-me Media, with the majority of the firm being held by private investors including The Baeza Group and Syncom Funds. According to DiRienzo, this arrangement "infuses millions of dollars of investment in programming that is really created for this audience."