Move to China feed will help ad sales, alienates viewers

HONG KONG — Music fans here are fuming after MTV replaced its MTV Mandarin feed, which airs cutting-edge Taiwanese content, with what they consider to be the more mainstream MTV China.

MTV Mandarin splits its airtime 70/30 in favor of Taiwan music, with the rest from the U.S. and Europe, while MTV China offers 30% from China, 35% from Hong Kong and Taiwan, 30% from the U.S. and Europe and 5% from Japan.

The Oct. 1 decision sparked complaints, but MTV insist the move makes sense: MTV China won expanded landing rights in China’s southern province of Guangdong — right next to Hong Kong — earlier this year. Before that it was available across the mainland only in hotels and diplomatic compounds.

“We had to think longer term, and Guangdong and Hong Kong are more linked politically and economically,” says Jessica Kam, deputy general manager of MTV China. “The channel is programmed for both places so it’s much more relevant to Hong Kong.”

The move will help its ad sales. “Now advertisers and (music) labels have a platform to showcase Cantonese talents,” she says. “And more advertisers are looking for a Hong Kong/Guangdong buy than a Hong Kong/Taiwan buy.”

Hong Kong and Guangdong residents share the same common dialect, but Taiwan doesn’t.

In Guangdong, there have been few complaints, unlike Hong Kong, where fans are having a hard time adjusting.

“The complaints are understandable, as they are when anything undergoes sudden change,” says Kam. “But we want to provide a window for China.”

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