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Music channel (V) to bow down under

SYDNEY — Asian music television franchise (V) today announced its first launch in a Western market with its entry into Oz, while confirming a new English-lingo international service to be produced in Australia, which will launch mid-year.

(V) has inked an exclusive multiyear licensing deal with XYZ Entertainment’s Red, the local music brand it will replace on April 18 on Rupert Murdoch’s cabler Foxtel, urban satcaster Galaxy and rural paybox Austar. But the XYZ creative and management team that, according to market research, made Red the ninth most popular service on Foxtel and Galaxy, will remain. XYZ is 50% owned by Foxtel, and 25% each by U.S. cablers United Intl. Holdings and Century Communications.

(V), which is a partnership between Murdoch’s Asian satcaster Star TV and music labels Sony, BMG, EMI and Warner, transmits to 260 million homes in Asia, where it has aired for six years following the exit of MTV Asia from Star TV over creative differences. At present, (V) operates three local-lingo channels, including a Thai service, Chinese-language channel and an Indian and Middle East service.

General manager Don Atyeo told Daily Variety that (V)’s existing “cheap and cheerful” international service, which is basically edited highlights of the three localized channels, will be replaced midyear by a tailor-made service produced by the XYZ-Red team in Australia.

“We’re in the process of turning (V) into a global brand instead of just an Asian brand,” Atyeo said. “In the last six months there’s been a push by News and our record companies to take our service brand and roll it out wider using local partners and expertise. It’s necessary when you have a competitor which has so much clout in so many parts of the world like MTV.”

Atyeo said (V) will bow in three of its four targeted new markets, which are the Philippines, Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia, this year.

The (V) announcement comes days before an MTV news conference skedded for Tuesday. The music channel will announce the date of its bow Down Under on US West’s and Kerry Packer’s cabler Optus Vision, via a licensing deal with the local channel it will replace, Village Roadshow’s ARC Music TV.

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