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New Music Channel Takes on MTV


HOLLYWOOD (Variety, Dec. 26, 2000) - A group of veteran TV and music industry executives will launch a music video TV network, dubbed Studio M, on New Year's Day in an attempt to carve out a niche amid MTV's dominance.

Studio M hopes it can attract viewers seeking personality-based programs and a wider scope than offerings from Viacom's MTV, VH1 and M2. The long-term goal is to expand to 24-hour operation and reach 90 percent of the United States.

The network, which staged a soft launch on Dec. 11, operates a studio in Sherman Oaks, Calif. and in Newark, N.J., home of a 25,000-title library licensed from Power Play Music Video TV Corp. It has been picked up by eight full-power stations and over 130 affiliates of America One and American Independent Network.

Its initial offering is a four-hour Monday-Saturday block with veejay-hosted showcases that include ``Studio M Country,'' ''Studio M Hitz,'' ``Studio M Countdown'' and ``Studio M Urban Jams'' along with ``Club Groove,'' ``Jazz & Blues,'' ``Xtreme Music'' and ''Artist Spotlight.'' The block, which will launch at 9 p.m. PST, will feature original programming including ``Pillow Talk,'' a talk show hosted by Kathleen McClellan; ``Live Wire,'' a request and dedication program hosted by Jim Lee and Shabazze; and ``Wrestle Rock,'' blending wrestling with rock 'n' roll.

Studio M chairman-CEO Max Keller said the network, backed by French media giant Thomson Multimedia and Internet Service Provider PSINet, has been in talks for carriage with Adelphia, DirecTV, Comcast, Time Warner and EchoStar on the domestic side and with partners in India, the Middle East, Japan, North Africa and Turkey. Keller's wife, Michelline Keller, serves as vice chairman. The pair's credits include ``Kent State,'' ``Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8,'' ``Acapulco H.E.A.T.'' and ``Tarzan.''

Company president is Michael Lloyd, who has produced such acts as Dionne Warwick, Lou Rawls and Belinda Carlisle