KUED launches Spanish channel

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

When flipping through the channels, you might find an old favorite in a new language.

KUED, the public television station housed on campus, is launching a digital channel entirely in Spanish. V-Me, which means “watch me,” will begin airing Oct. 23.

The station was created to serve Utah’s growing Hispanic community, said Scott Chaffin, director of broadcasting at KUED.

“It seemed like this was an opportunity to serve the Hispanic audience in the state, which is growing phenomenally,” Chaffin said. “Hopefully we can bring people’s heritage to TV.”

Larry Smith, general manager at KUED, said he wanted to cater the station’s shows to the Spanish-speaking population in the state, which includes more than 200,000 people in Utah who are of Hispanic or Latino origin, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“There is a real need across the county (for shows in Spanish), because the Spanish population is growing so fast,” Smith said. “This is our attempt to try to reach them so we can diversify our audience.”

The channel will broadcast Spanish shows common in Hispanic countries and KUED programs with subtitles.

V-Me will broadcast shows about Hispanic-oriented travel, food and children’s shows such as “Plaza Sésamo,” “Las Tres Mellizas” and “Hoobs.”

“A lot of the current Spanish channels have telenovelas and shows that do not have a strong children’s component in Spanish,” said Mary Dickson, associate director of KUED. “There are not a lot of shows about life in America either.”

The channel will also feature shows like “Creencias,” “Biografías Clío” and “Exploracione,” which will explore opinion, history, current affairs, news and biography.

“We anticipate that at some point we can have local production to create our own Spanish shows,” Chaffin said.

The process might take a while though, Dickson said.

“The biggest challenge to some people at the station is that a lot of us don’t speak Spanish, so we’re not go(ing) out to pretend we’re in Mexico,” Dickson said.

Launching and hosting the new channel is estimated to cost $100,000, Chaffin said.

The station hosts three channels including KUED. BT, the channel that aired delayed KUED programs, is being swapped for V-Me.

V-Me will be able to broadcast with over-the-air digital sets and receivers on digital channel 7.3 and with Comcast on channel 108.

“We’re extremely excited,” Dickson said.

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