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I want my mobile TV

MTV likes the ring of Euro cellular deal

MTV Networks Intl. pumped up its ride into mobile TV Tuesday, teaming with international cellular carrier T-Mobile to offer four channels in the U.K., Germany and Austria, with more channels and countries to follow.

Deal puts MTV’s musicvideos plus shows including “Pimp My Ride,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Dora the Explorer” and the made-for-mobile comedy “Head and Body” into the hands of T-Mobile’s 3G phone users.

T-Mobile announced the MTV alliance in Hanover, Germany, ahead of the giant CeBit technology trade fair that starts Thursday.

With its young aud, MTV is among the most aggressive of entertainment companies tapping into the mobile market, in which young people will use phones for fun and games.

Like many other TV and music companies, MTV is working with operators and around them as they experiment with different ways to get programming onto phones.

MTV has its own branded cellular networks in some countries — in the U.S. it is a partner in the fledgling Amp’d cellular brand — and has pre-loaded material and links to its mobile Web site on Motorola phones.

“There are big questions about the role of the operator, the role of alternative carriers. Obviously, operators are a very important piece of the puzzle,” said MTV senior veep for digital Gideon Bierer.

Like many deals in the nascent cellular entertainment biz, MTV’s T-Mobile hookup is more a marketing and branding exercise than an immediate moneymaker.

T-Mobile has only about 200,000 3G users across nine countries in Europe, and not all have TV capability.

“We’re trying to show people what they can use their phones for,” a T-Mobile rep said.

T-Mobile deal marks the first time MTV has offered fare from across its brands from the start of an operator pact.

T-Mobile is taking programs from MTV’s Paramount Comedy and Nickelodeon channels, as well as from MTV’s entertainment and music webs, known respectively as Snax and Trax in the U.K. and as Shorts and Music in other European countries.

The shows are free to users this month in Germany and Austria, where T-Mobile will start charging in April. Germany and Austria will not show Paramount Comedy until later in the year. All four channels will launch in the U.K. this summer.

The programming is a mix of made-for-mobile content, shortened repackaged versions of TV shows and simulcasts of MTV’s regular TV musicvideos. The programming runs in loops of around one to three hours. Individual shows last five minutes or less.