Viacom Intl. is entering the interactive arena with the creation of its own New Media group.

The cable programmer has appointed Michele DiLorenzo, formerly VP business development at its MTV channel, to run the group.

She will be a senior VP and head of the Viacom New Media unit.

“We’ve been studying this marketplace for about a year,” DiLorenzo said. “We approached it with a healthy dose of skepticism, but the strength of our audience, with MTV and Nickelodeon, were incredibly interested in interactive experience.”

Viacom will draw on its talent at MTV, VH-1, Nickelodeon and Showtime to produce material for interactive programming and products, DiLorenzo added. The material will be designed for all platforms, from CD-ROM to so-called Personal Digital Assistants.

“We expect within 18 months to have products on the shelf that people can buy ,” said DiLorenzo.

One prototype illustrating the idea of using Viacom programming is a compact disc containing video, sound and text from MTV’s “Choose or Lose” segments on the presidential campaigns. Users navigate through the disc on an IBM PC.

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