MTV mulls masking music in Mideast

Music net looks to Arab TV for future prospects

LONDON — MTV may be about to dip its toes into the Arab TV market.

Execs at the globetrotting music net, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, are mulling launching MTV Arabia in the Mideast within two years.

Dean Possenniskie, VP and general manager for emerging markets, told Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that, “hopefully we will be in the (Arab) market in the next 24 months … we realize how important it is.”

MTV reps would not disclose further details.

It is unclear if the latest addition to MTV’s global channels would beam free-to-air or on a pay-platform, as sister Viacom channel Showtime Arabia does.

However, MTV Arabia would likely seek a Mideast partner like Showtime Arabia, which teamed up with Kuwaiti investment firm Kipco to launch its Mideast platform as a joint venture.

Any move into the Arab market is a risky one.

Leading Arabic music satcasters Rotana and Melody, run by music companies of the same name, already have exclusive video deals with most Arab singers.

Another problem may be local sensibilities.

Saudi Arabia accounts for most of the advertising spend in Arab TV, but is also the most conservative of Mideast societies.

MTV will likely have to cut or drop music videos that many Western audiences would find quite tame.

Web has already run into trouble with censors in other territories because of its provocative content.

In August, MTV India was rapped by the country’s Information and Broadcasting Ministry for airing a music video from Bollywood pic “Aashiq banaya aapne” (Love Takes Over), which received an A (over 18) certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification.

Adult-rated fare is banned from India’s small screens.

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