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Friday, September 25, 1998 Published at 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK


MTV ready to rock Russia

MTV will broadcast in Moscow and St Petersburg

Russia is to get a further taste of western popular culture when MTV launches a new music channel in the former Soviet Union at midnight on Saturday.

The 24-hour Moscow-based music television network will feature a 50/50 mix of local and international artists. This is the first time western TV has been customised for a Russian audience.

[ image: MTV is popular worldwide]
MTV is popular worldwide
Initially, the new channel - broadcast in Russian - will be received by 10 million subscribers.

The official unveiling of the channel was due to take place on September 25 with a large-scale event in Moscow's Menezh building. However, due to the current economic climate in Russia, the party has been postponed.

Boris Zosimov, chairman of MTV Russia, said: "The channel will launch as originally scheduled and we plan to host a spectacular event at a later date. By then, we will have had the opportunity to establish a strong connection with the youth of Russia."

Couch potatoes of the MTV generation

MTV is beamed into 200 million households in 85 countries around the globe which means it can be seen by one in four of the world's television viewers.

The channel has been accused of reducing the attention spans of America's youth, and earned the dubious distinction of creating a couch-potato "MTV generation", typified by cartoon slobs Beavis and Butt-head.

MTV originated in 1981 and consisted of back-to-back pop videos introduced by attractive young presenters known as VJs (Video Jockeys).

The formula proved hugely popular with its target audience of 18-to-25 year olds, although today its core viewers tend to be young teenagers.

Youth TV in Europe

The company says its programmes are aimed at "young people who have more in common with each other, despite national boundaries, than with older people".

But the channel's continental incarnation - MTV Europe - suggests that all European youth have in common is a love for trashy American pop culture.

It was launched in 1987 with the first video - beamed into 1.6 million paying households - being Dire Straits' Money for Nothing. The channel currently broadcasts to 52 million households across the continent.

[ image: Western music is big in Russia]
Western music is big in Russia
After a crisis in the early '90s when it seemed to be living up to its EMPTV label by broadcasting an incessant visual diet of back to back Lionel Richie and Duran Duran videos, the channel widened its remit with such programmes as an infamous living soap The Real World, and a considerably racier version of Blind Date called Singled Out.

In its MTV News Presents slot, it also tackles serious youth-oriented issues such as heroin abuse and teen pregnancies.

MTV's Russian launch is just another step in its unrelenting march towards global domination. The channel already broadcasts in Asia, Australia, and Latin America, and on the Internet with its recently launched M2 site.

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