The “V” of Vme Media Inc. might very well now stand for “Venezuela,” as a group of high-profile Venezuelan investors are committing a “major investment” in the struggling Spanish-language TV network.
Eduardo Hauser, Juan José Rendón and Eligio Cedeño this week finalized a deal to invest an undisclosed amount of money to gain a controlling interest in Vme Media Inc., the U.S. Hispanic content and distribution company based in New York City. Financial terms have not been disclosed, but Hauser, Vme Media’s new Chairman of the Board, tells Portada the investment will help Vme Media transition from a “financially strapped company to one that is properly capitalized.” The prior controlling investor was Spain’s Grupo Prisa, which has been hurt by the deep economic crisis in Spain.
According to a prepared statement going out today, the investment group will supplement existing staff from Vme. Vme will continue to work with its 42 public television partners across the country as well as to grow and enhance the company’s commercial cable network, Vme Kids.
The new investors will now have four seats on the Vme board and have appointed Eduardo Hauser, Victor Cerda, Juan José Rendón and Eligio Cedeño. Prisa, Symcom Venture Partners and Thirteen (formerly known as Educational Broadcasting Corporation) a WNET subsidiary, will continue to be represented on the board of Vme Media, Inc. by Manuel Polanco, Terry Jones and Bob Feinberg.
A bet on the Future of Hispanic Public Media
“We think we can help Vme Media better navigate the world of public media,” says Hauser, a media management expert who has worked at Venevision, The Cisneros Group and AOL and sits on the board of NPR. “There has never been a better time to invest in a company like Vme Media […] Education is among the topics that matter most to Hispanics.”
Another major new partner, Eligio Cedeño, is behind two other TV companies: Internet TV Soi.tv and Canadian Hispanic TV network Nuevo Mundo, which will remain independent from Vme Media, at least for now. Cedeño is the Venezuelan banker who won notoriety after being detained in 2007, when the Venezuelan government accused him of circumventing government currency rules to gain U.S. dollars.
Major programming changes are not expected any time soon, and while Hauser declines to be specific about staff changes, an official statement that is being distributed to the media today states: “The investment group will supplement existing staff from Vme.”
The network plans to hold an upfront presentation in early May in New York City. Some of the new investors, including Cedeño and Hauser are expected to attend.