WTTW Adds Spanish-Language Channel

February 27, 2007

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At Frontera Grill, public TV boosters and Latino businessmen hoisted margaritas and caught a glimpse of the new network on plasma screens.

“V-me.” That's V-me like Spanish for “see me.”

The 24-hour digital service will feature PBS fare adapted to Spanish, Latin American movies, and original shows, from newsmaker interviews to cooking.

WTTW Programming Vice President Dan Soles says the station will add local productions by fall.

Soles: “About twice a week we're going out and sort of having little mini town halls with different organizations, asking for their input and feedback. What we really want to do is make sure we develop a program that's inclusive, that really speaks to the Chicago audience and that it will become appointment viewing in the Latino community. And that's going to take a little bit of time because we want to make sure that when we do it, we get it right.”

WTTW and its cousins in cities such as Miami and L.A. are getting the network for free. V-me President Carmen DiRienzo says they're not the only winners.

DiRienzo: “The private investors, of course, are able to generate a return on their money because we are able to exploit the programming by selling DVDs, by distributing it internationally, by distributing it in digital and so forth.”

And corporations will get to align their brands with the shows. The first major sponsors include London-based oil giant BP.

V-me will be available on digital cable beginning next Monday. I'm Chip Mitchell, Chicago Public Radio.