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No Sabado Gigantes Here

Plaza Sesamo's Pancho Contreras

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Spanish-language television channel V-me, a national network that has partnered with PBS to "entertain and educate America's Latino families in Spanish," began airing on digital cable stations earlier this month.

Posturing itself as the anti-Univision, V-me celebrated its Miami launch with a party at Coconut Grove's Cielo Garden and Supper Club last night. The chic crowd -- cocktail dresses, suits, one adventurous woman wearing a rabbit-fur pageboy cap -- seemed very un-PBS. No sweater vests, tweed, or pleated khaki pants were in evidence among the attendees, who listened to the Spam All-Stars, sipped martinis, and ate croquetas to celebrate the arrival of "Plaza Sesamo" on cable channels everywhere. (The Spanish version of "Sesame Street" has been on the air in Latin America for more than 30 years.)

The station's daytime programming offers standard PBS childrens' fare like "Franny's Feet" and "Connie the Cow," as well as lifestyle shows like a yoga program produced in Miami. At night there's a Charlie Rose-like interview show called "Viva Voz," and an array of nature and science programs, documentaries, and "Creencias," an adapted version of the PBS series "Religion and Ethics." For both English- and Spanish-speaking cinephiles, the most exciting offering might be the network's daily 11:00 p.m. airing of films from all over the Spanish-speaking world, which will be close-captioned in English.

V-me's top execs were in town from New York City, where the network is based. Carmen DiRienzo, V-me's diminutive but fiery president, said she hopes to "satisfy the intellectual curiosity of the Hispanic community." Guillermo Sierra, V-me's director of programming, said that the line-up will change as the channel continues to acquire and adapt English-language shows. Thankfully, the Tony Benett sing-alongs and PBS mainstays like "Eastenders" seem not to have made the transition to Spanish.

In Miami-Dade, V-me is on Comcast channel 223 (146 in Homestead and Key Biscayne) and Atlantic Broadband channel 992. For owners of televisions equipped with tuners to receive digital broadcasts, V-me is digital channel 2.3. --Emily Witt

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