MTV customizes channel for Russian launch

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MOSCOW -- MTV Networks, as part of an effort to offer localized programming in expanding regional markets, will soon launch a wholly dedicated MTV Russia channel, the first time a western TV network has customized for Russian audiences.

A 24-hour MTV Russia in the fourth quarter of this year will commence terrestrial broadcasts after New York-based MTV Networks inked a multi-year licensing agreement with Moscow-based media and entertainment giant Biz Enterprises.

"The launch of MTV Russia is a cool milestone and a dream come true for MTV," says MTV Networks Chairman and CEO Tom Freston in a statement. "This MTV will speak Russian, look Russian, be Russian. It will reflect Russian youth and connect them to their peers everywhere else."

The advertiser-supported service will target Russians aged between 12 and 34 years with locally produced programming that includes shows hosted by Russian VJs and music videos from domestic artists like Mumij, Trol', Splin, DJ Groove and Ivanushki International.

International repertoire represented by Madonna, U2, the Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls will also feature, as will MTV's signature programs, such as MTV Unplugged, the MTV Video Music Awards and the MTV Europe Music Awards.

Biz, MTV's partner in this venture, will support the entire effort with its infrastructure, which includes properties such as the music video maker Biz-TV, radio station HIT-FM, ad agency Biz Media, event promotions division Biz Entertainment, various entertainment industry magazines and other related ventures in neighbouring former Soviet republics like Ukraine and Belarus.

"This is the perfect time for MTV to launch in Russia," says Biz Enterprises Chairman Boris Zosimov. "With the rich musical and cultural variations of the region, MTV will highlight the music and issues of interest to the first generation of free Russian youth."

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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