Viacom is spreading its tentacles in China

MUMBAI: Media conglomerate Viacom is expanding in China. The company has announced several breakthrough partnerships, including a joint venture with Shanghai Media Group (SMG).

This marks the first investment by a global player in a Chinese content production company.

Viacoms MTV International has reached agreements with China Central Television (CCTV) for three major programming initiatives. They consist of two deals for Nickelodeon and CCTVs first partnership to fight HIV/AIDS.

Nickelodeon and CCTV will co-produce Chinas first awards show for kids later this year. In this manner Nickelodeons Kids Choice Awards (KCAs) has been extended to China. The other versions of the show are made in the US, Brazil, Australia and Holland. The annual US event is made available to all 30 Nickelodeon channels, with a potential worldwide reach of 285 million TV households.

CCTV also hatched a deal with Nickelodeon forCat Dog and Wild Thornberrys. They air a total of 1.5 hours daily on CCTVs new childrens channel. This marks the debut of Nickelodeon animation in China.

The company's chairman and CEO Sumner redstoine had spent several days in China during the negotiations. He was quoted in an official release saying, " These announcements are the latest milestones in Viacoms long-term commitment to developing our businesses and relationships in China. They closely follow MTVs breakthrough as the first global brand to launch a 24-hour channel in China.

"The partnership with Shanghai Media group not only significantly expands our position in Shanghai, but also paves the way for us to extend the distribution of our 24-hour MTV China channel and pursue expansion in other areas such as childrens educational programming.

Viacoms joint venture with SMG will produce Chinese language kids and youth programming for distribution to SMGs channels. In addition, the joint venture intends to distribute the content to channels outside Shanghai. Viacom stated that it was the first global player to announce an equity stake in a Chinese content company. This follows the change in Chinese law announced several weeks ago that allowed foreign participation in Chinese production companies for the first time.

The Viacom/SMG agreement includes ad sales of the content produced by the JV to Chinese and international clients. The companies alliance extends a longstanding partnership, which includes syndication of MTV and Nickelodeon programming on SMG channels and the co-production of the MTV Style Awards Show.

Showing its social conscience Viacom also announced its intention to invest in HIV/Aids content and events in China. Viacom will partner with CCTV on initiatives that will help bring Chinese audiences important health information about the menace. In cooperation with the UN MTV China is currently exploring concepts for HIV/AIDS related programming and events. MTV has also announced plans to launch a Mandarin language version of its Staying Alive web site. This will provide information on the crisis.

The relationship between CCTV and MTV goes back five years. In 1999 the two parties had co-produced the inaugural CCTV-MTV Music Honours, 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 TV households, and is broadcast annually to all of MTVs 150 million TV households across Asia. The event is also made available to all MTV channels worldwide which reach over 400 million TV households worldwide. 

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