VH1 launching on Zee-Turner platform, priced at Rs 3

MUMBAI: Two years of "will it, won't it?" is finally over with the launch in India of VH1, MTV's upmarket sibling.

Interestingly, the premium music channel from the Viacom stable is being launched not on the Sony-Discovery One Alliance platform, which is where MTV and sister kids' channel Nickelodeon are, but on the Zee-Turner bouquet.

MTV Networks India and Zee-Turner, the distribution arm of Zee Telefilms and Turner International India, jointly made the announcement today regarding VH1's launch. The channel would also be available on the Zee Group's DTH platform Dish TV.

In India, VH1 will be a 24-hour pay channel priced at Rs 3 that will cater to the 16 - 44 SEC AB demographic. Reflecting its nich upmarket character, the channel will play only international tracks and there are no plans to localise content as of now.

MTV senior vice-president, network development, South Asia (licensing and merchandising) Sanjeev Hiremath, tells that VH1's signal is already up and running and that decoders would start getting seeded in the market from next week on. Asked as to the subscription cost, Hiremath said the channel would be priced at Rs 3, the same as sibling channels MTV and Nick. Queried as to how long the "free view" period would run, he said it would only be till the end of the month. VH1's billing cycle would start from 1 January, 2005, he pointed out.

While Hiremath was non-committal on the reasons for the "switch" to Zee-Turner, in all likelihood Zee offered a better minimum guarantee than Sony.

What this also means is that MTV is adopting the strategy of not putting all its "distribution eggs" in one basket. MTV is no stranger to Zee on the distribution front having partnered earlier to launch Nickelodeon.

VH1 is also likely to form a part of the new bouquet that Zee is creating that will have HBO (which switches from the One Alliance to Zee Turner from 1 January) as the driver channel.

MTV Networks Asia Pacific president Frank Brown said, "The launch of VH1 in India represents a new milestone reflecting our rapid growth and development in the country. This launch makes it the third 24-hour VH1 channel in Asia and the 18th channel to join the MTV Networks family in the Asia Pacific region. It also makes India the second country, after Australia, in Asia that carries all three MTV, Nickelodeon and VH1 on a 24-hours platform."

Said Zee-Turner Ltd chairman Lakshmi Goel, "We are pleased to have signed up with MTV Networks India for carriage of VH1 on the Zee-Turner distribution platform. With the launch of VH1, we are entering a niche segment of the entertainment industry given the channel focus and the opportunity that cable and DTH will open up for niche channels such as VH1."

VH1 is the 24-hour music video network that is available in 112 million households in 130 territories across the world. Through music-based series, specials, news and live events, VH1 customizes its music and program mix to appeal to the tastes of local audiences in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Russia, Latin America, and the United States. VH1's holdings also include 12 locally operated websites, recorded music based on popular show formats and various licensing & merchandising.

Some of the signature shows that VH1 has on offer are:

VH1 Driven

Driven traces that process from childhood to the first glimmer of stardom, through the eyes of those who knew the artiste best and helped play pivotal roles in their development - teachers, family members, friends and creative partners. With each episode of Driven dedicated to a single artiste, the show looks at the stars' blueprints for success and what propelled them to achieve it despite the obstacles that lay in their paths.

VH1 Storytellers

Viewers will be treated with acoustic versions of artistes' hits and share the secrets/tales from a lifetime of lifestyle, habits and hits. What makes them run, sing and play? Viewers can find out answers from the artistes in this shared edition of Storytellers.

VH1 Fabulous Life

Take a fast-paced, first class joyride of lavish living, as we check out the fortune-building careers and businesses of the extremely rich and famous and the incredible indulgences that come along. Peek into lifestyles filled with non-stop VIP treatment, endless entourages and $10000 dollar face crèmes, to fleets of cars, massive estates and multi-million dollar wardrobes. A light-hearted blend of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and the Forbes 400 list, each episode focuses on one particular person or subject. Weaving expert interviews, investigate field segments and voyeuristic footage; the series gives an extraordinary glimpse into what we call, The Fabulous Life.

VH1 Behind The Music

Critically applauded by the Arizona Republic as "So addictive it should be preceded by a warning from the Surgeon General, VH1's Behind The Music has taken an intimate look into the personal lives of pop music's greatest and most influential artists, tracing their struggles, setbacks and successes. Behind The Music features rare and never-before-seen archive video, film and home movie footage, concert clips and songs, plus exclusive interviews with the artistes, their families, friends and colleagues.

VH1 The Greatest

VH1's Greatest series presents definitive rankings of the best songs, artists, albums and everything else in rock 'n' roll. Each countdown is revealed by a celebrity host, and through new interviews and classic footage, you'll also learn the reasons behind our experts' choices. Sure to spark controversy but always fun to watch, Greatest is your crash course in the most important topics in music.

Indian viewers will get the visual treat of watching back-to-back international music videos of top ranking international artists, from the 70's, 80's and 90's to the latest releases; from different genres ranging from Queen, Pink Floyd to Linkin Park and The Rasmus; Billy Joel to Robbie Williams and Eminem.

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