BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Thursday, 25 March, 2004, 13:58 GMT
Do we still want our MTV?
By Chris Heard
BBC News Online entertainment staff

MTV Video Music Awards
Some of the world's biggest artists are part of MTV culture
MTV may stop broadcasting music videos by independent artists in Europe in an argument over royalties. How important is MTV to the music business?

MTV's impact on popular culture in the 23 years since it began broadcasting has been significant.

As the world's first TV network dedicated to music, it heralded the start of the video age when it went on air in the US in August 1981.

It became synonymous with the playing of wall-to-wall videos throughout the 1980s, and paved the way for a string of competitors which now replicate its early format.

MTV facts
Launched in US on 1 August 1981
Reaches 117 million homes in Europe
MTV UK launched on July 1 1997
Top-rated music channel in UK, Germany, Italy and Portugal
Today, MTV's influence spans the globe, with dedicated networks in the US, Europe, Asia and the Latin world, and a whole raft of non-music programmes.

Long before Big Brother it became one of the first networks to embrace the concept of reality TV with its show The Real World.

It also introduced fashion coverage, along with the irreverent cartoon Beavis and Butthead, and masochistic "stunt" series Jackass.


Most successfully of all it produced the fly-on-the-wall documentaries following the trials of rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his family at their Los Angeles home.

World leaders including Bill Clinton and Tony Blair have used its power and influence to communicate to younger voters.

Its reach has grown to include live request shows, separate programming dedicated to dance, hip-hop and alternative rock, and annual awards ceremonies for music and films, as well as its own merchandise range.

Owned by US media giant Viacom, it is also behind VH1, VH1 Classic and VH2.

Last year, when Edinburgh hosted the MTV European Music Awards ceremony, the Scottish economy was boosted by nearly 9m. The show itself was beamed to viewers in 28 countries.

Justin Timberlake, MTV European Music Awards
Justin Timberlake graced last year's MTV European Music Awards
Although the current dispute is over royalty payments there is no question of MTV Europe struggling financially.

It is a profitable business with viewers in 117 million homes in 48 "territories" (mainly nation states) across the continent, including eastern Europe.

Despite competition from digital music networks such as The Box and Kiss, in the UK it boasts a 43% year-on-year increase in ratings and accounts for three-fifths of all music channel viewers.

Last year there was speculation MTV could be removed from Sky's subscription package as Sky re-negotiated its deal to carry the network.

Sky had paid MTV an estimated 20m a year from subscriptions for eight channels in a deal dating back to Sky Digital's launch in 1998.

This month US satellite TV producer Echostar turned off MTV temporarily in a contract dispute with Viacom over the cost of its programmes.

But nearly a quarter of a century after it announced its arrival with Video Killed The Radio Star, MTV shows no signs of losing its grip on the world's young music consumers.

Talks to resume in MTV video row
25 Mar 04  |  TV and Radio
MTV event hits high economic note
15 Mar 04  |  Scotland
MTV back on as firms halt dispute
11 Mar 04  |  Business
MTV Burma campaign to avoid Asia
17 Dec 03  |  TV and Radio

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific