To Russia with MTV

Web marches into 10 mil homes in Sept.

LONDON — MTV Networks has announced it is launching a 24-hour MTV channel dedicated to the Russian market, the first time a Western web has set up a localized network in Russia.

The Russian-language service, MTV Russia, is due to bow in September and will be available terrestrially and on cable to an initial 10 million homes, primarily in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

MTV’s partner in its Russian venture — with which it has reached a “multiyear licensing agreement” — is Biz Entertainment, a Russian music television programming supplier. Biz chairman Boris Zosimov will assume the title of chairman and general producer of MTV Russia.

The move, according to MTV Networks Intl. prexy Bill Roedy, follows nine years in which MTV Europe programming — in various shapes and forms — has been distributed in Russia, in part through Biz. Roedy said that MTV’s experience in Russia has been positive and that a recent survey indicated the MTV brand has a 68% recognition factor among Russians.

Problematic market

“There’s an image that Russia could be a problematic market — but we don’t see it that way,” Roedy told Daily Variety. “This fulfills a dream, a benchmark in our ongoing localization.”

Meanwhile, MTV Europe has announced a new feed, MTV Nordic, which will be specific to the Scandinavian countries and Finland. MTV Nordic will be in English, a common denominator in the region, and is due mid-June.

The service will reach about 3.5 million homes — 2 million in Sweden — on satellite and cable. At present, the Nordic territories receive MTVE’s northern feed, one of MTVE’s four current feeds for Europe. The northern service will now become exclusive to the Benelux countries and France.

Channel-specific

Although the Nordic feed will originate from MTVE’s London studios, 80% of its programming will be channel-specific and will in part be produced in collaboration with Nordic companies.

MTVE also has announced that this year’s MTV Europe Music Awards will be held Nov. 12 at the Filaforum in Milan. This marks the fifth year for the awards, which were held in Rotterdam last year.

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