The Spanish-language TV channel Vme will end its multicast service for public television over the next year as it transitions to commercial cable.
“We are anticipating a gradual phase-out of the PBS signal” as affiliate station contracts end, said Victor Cerda, s.v.p. of corporate strategy. He estimated about 80 percent of Vme’s current 43 public TV clients will drop the channel by March 2017.
Vme is already airing on commercial providers DirecTV, Verizon Fios, Mediacom, AT&T and Frontier, Cerda said. The service is also in talks with Comcast and additional carriers.
Vme launched in 2007 as a public TV multicast channel offering lifestyle content for Spanish-speaking audiences. The 10-year contracts with its original client stations end soon.
When Vme reps contacted stations over the last year to discuss extending those deals, Cerda said, many had already decided to drop Vme to make room for the PBS Kids multicast channel that launches in January. Others are opting for replacing Vme with local content.
Cerda said several public TV stations would like to offer Vme content online. “We’re working on a way to maintain that service,” he said.
Vme also has been talking with PBS “to persuade them to beef up their outreach to Hispanic audiences” with its content, Cerda said.
“We talked about partnering with PBS using the Vme platform to broadcast PBS Kids programming in Spanish,” he said. “That’s something that makes sense, given the growing demographic of Hispanic children. They weren’t interested.”
Jan McNamara, PBS spokesperson, said PBS Kids content “attracts significant viewership among Hispanic families as an English language service,” and several programs on the primary channel are available in Spanish through the second audio program option. Some content on the new PBS Kids multicast channel also will be available in SAP, she said.
WNET in New York City remains a partner in Vme, which was announced in 2005 and initially called Viva. A WNET spokesperson declined comment.