Inside Move: MTV marshals news forces

Cabler offers exclusive reports, updates on Iraq

Even the rockers are starting to get nervous about an impending U.S. invasion of Iraq.

MTV produced a primetime special on the subject last week called “Confronting Iraq.” The half-hour program was MTV’s first sustained look at the prospect of another Gulf war. MTV says it couldn’t ignore the issue any more because its latest polls showed that Iraq is the No. 1 worry on the minds of the net’s teenage/young-adult viewers.

Of course, MTV made some concessions to its demographic, stuffing the half-hour with the usual supermarket of visual effects, everything from jump cuts to whip pans. And top-40 rock elbowed out John Williams-type symphonic music on the soundtrack.

But the content was quite serious, drawing on MTV’s sister network CBS for news footage of the events leading up to the current stalemate at the U.N. and for fresh interviews with young people — not only antiwar activists but soldiers who’d have to shoulder arms against the Iraqis.

MTV is planning to continue providing exclusive reports on the pre-war atmosphere, seeding them throughout the day on its hourly “MTV News” updates. And if the U.S. does go to war, MTV plans to blow out its regular schedule, including commercials, and pick up CBS’ nonstop coverage of the conflict, at least for a number of hours on the first day.

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