MTV strengthens presence in S China with 24-hour channel

NEW YORK: Media conglomerate Viacom has announced that MTV Networks has achieved breakthrough distribution agreements for MTV and kids' channel Nickelodeon in the tightly controlled Chinese television market. MTV will broadcast its 24-hour service in the Guangdong province of southern China.

With approval by China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), MTV is the first global brand to be granted the rights to telecast a music channel 24 hours a day in the economically booming Pearl River Delta in Guangdong, Southern China. One of 10 dedicated MTV channels in the Asia Pacific region, MTV China will begin its 24-hour broadcast next month, and will be distributed by Guangdong Cable.

Viacom is the latest international media conglomerate to start distributing a channel directly to Chinese households in Guangdong. AOL Time Warner and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation got permission a couple of years ago. Apart from Guangdong, foreign channels are not allowed to broadcast direct into Chinese homes.

An official release informs that in a separate agreement, Nickelodeon will co-produce and distribute Chinese language Nickelodeon television series on DVD/VCD with Shanghai Audio & Video Press (SAVP).

MTV China has been available as a 24-hour channel in hotels and foreign compounds since 1995, while MTV branded programming airs on terrestrial and cable channels across China, reaching 70 million TV households. Nickelodeon branded programming is currently seen via terrestrial and cable channels reaching 50 million TV households in China.

Speaking on the latest development, Viacom's Chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone said, "MTV's launch in Guangdong is a new milestone in the long-term relationship between Viacom and China that extends our local production partnerships and opens up a vast potential audience for MTV Networks branded programming."

The release informs that MTV Networks' agreement with SAVP for the production and distribution of Nickelodeon's popular TV series on DVD/VCD in China will bring customised programming to Chinese audiences, featuring locally produced, Chinese language content. This will mark the first time that children's content from Viacom will be distributed via DVD/VCD in China. Under the terms of the deal, SAVP will sell and distribute up to 26 episodes per series of many of Nickelodeon's award-winning live action and animated TV programmes, such as Rugrats, Clarissa Explains it All, Cousin Skeeter and Invader Zim.

Currently, MTV Networks distributes China's English language channel CCTV9 in hotels across the US. Other examples of Viacom's support for Chinese culture include sponsorship of the China Broadcasting Cultural Orchestra's US Tour in February 2003; organising the Development of Media Industry in 21st Century Conference in Beijing in July 2002; establishing a scholarship program for the Beijing Central Music Academy; and, promoting the Cheers to China Music Gala (an annual Chinese pop music show that travels to Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Athens, and Moscow).

In 1999, CCTV and MTV co-produced the inaugural CCTV-MTV Music Honors, which has since become a major annual music event in China. The show has aired on various CCTV channels in China reaching over 300 million households, and is broadcast annually to all of MTV's 150 million TV households across Asia. The event is also made available to all MTV channels worldwide, which reach more than 379 million households across 164 countries.

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