Fingerhut Companies Inc. will join Viacom Inc. in its experiment with home shopping on its MTV, VH1 and Nick at Nite cable nets, the companies said Tuesday.

The joint venture calls for Fingerhut, a Minneapolis-based direct marketing firm, to handle orders, inventory and customer service for the six-month test, scheduled to begin in late April.

Viacom will provide programming.

The experiment will be used to evaluate different concepts for a new stand-alone shopping channel. Viewers will be lured with CDs and cassettes, videos, music paraphernalia, concert tickets and trendy clothing.

Four hours of home shopping will be featured weekly on each of the three channels. Viewers may place orders with Fingerhut through a toll-free phone number. Cable system operators will share in the revenues.