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MTV: Music Television

<tr><th colspan="2" style="text-align: center;">Image:MTV Logo.svg</th></tr> <tr><th>Launched</th><td>August 1, 1981</td></tr><tr><th>Owned by</th><td>MTV Networks (Viacom)</td></tr><tr><th>Sister channel(s)</th><td>VH1, MTV2, others</td></tr><tr><th>Website</th><td></td></tr><tr><th style="background-color: #BFDFFF; font-size: 110%;" align="center" colspan="2">Availability </th></tr><tr><th style="background-color: #d0e5f5;" align="center" colspan="2">Satellite</th></tr><tr><th>DirecTV</th><td>Channel 331</td></tr><tr><th>Dish Network</th><td>Channel 160</td></tr><tr><th>DirecTV Latin America</th><td>Channel 260</td></tr>

MTV (Music Television) is an American cable television network based in New York City. Launched on August 1, 1981, the original purpose of the channel was to show music videos, as well as other music news and events. Today, MTV broadcasts a variety of music, pop culture, youth culture, and reality television shows aimed at adolescents and young adults.

Since its premiere, MTV revolutionized the music industry. Slogans such as "I want my MTV" became embedded in public thought, the concept of the VJ (video jockey) was popularized, the idea of a dedicated video-based outlet for music was introduced, and both artists and fans found a central location for music events, news, and promotion. MTV has also been referenced countless times by musicians, other TV channels and shows, films, and books.

MTV has spawned a handful of sister channels in the U.S. and dozens of affiliated international channels around the world. MTV's moral influence on young people, including examples of censorship and social activism on the channel, has been the subject of debate for years. MTV's choice to focus on non-music programming has also been contested relentlessly, demonstrating the channel's continued impact on popular culture.


The launch of MTV

Previous concepts

MTV's pre-history began in 1977, when Warner Cable (a division of Warner Communications and an ancestor of WASEC, Warner Satellite Entertainment Company) launched the first two-way interactive cable TV system, Qube, in Columbus, Ohio.

The Qube system offered many specialized channels, including a children's channel called Pinwheel which would later become Nickelodeon. One of these specialized channels was Sight On Sound, a music channel that featured concert footage and music oriented TV programs; with the interactive Qube service, viewers could vote for their favorite songs and artists.

MTV's programming format was created by the visionary media executive, Bob Pittman, who later became president and chief executive officer of MTV Networks.<ref></ref> Pittman had test driven the music format by producing and hosting a 15 minute show, Album Tracks, on WNBC, New York, in the late 1970s. And Pittman's boss, WASEC COO John Lack, had sheparded a TV series called PopClips, created by former Monkee-turned solo artist Michael Nesmith, the latter of whom by the late 1970s was turning his attention to the music video format.<ref></ref>

Music Television debuts

The first images shown on MTV were a montage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Further information: First music videos aired on MTV

On August 1, 1981, at 12:01 a.m., MTV: Music Television launched with the words "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll!" (by original COO John Lack) and the original MTV theme song, a crunching guitar riff written by Jonathan Elias and John Petersen, playing over a montage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. MTV producers used this footage because it was in the public domain.<ref></ref>

Appropriately, the first music video shown on MTV was "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles. The second video shown was Pat Benatar's "You Better Run". Sporadically, the screen would go black when someone at MTV inserted a tape into a VCR.<ref></ref>

At launch time, the official subscriber count across America was 3,000,000 (the actual number was 500,000), but the immediate impact would have argued that every young adult's television in the country was tuned to MTV.

MTV's early days

Personalities and format

J.J. Jackson, one of the original five VJs at MTV's debut
Further information: List of MTV VJs

The early format of MTV was modeled after top 40 radio. Fresh-faced young men and women were hired to host the network's programming and to introduce videos that were being played. The term VJ (video jockey) was coined, a play on the acronym DJ (disc jockey). Many VJs eventually became celebrities in their own right. The original five MTV VJs in 1981 were Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson and Martha Quinn. In 2005, this group (except for J.J. Jackson, who died in 2004) became hosts on Sirius Satellite Radio.<ref></ref>

The early music videos that made up the bulk of MTV's programming in the 1980s were often crude promotional or concert clips from whatever sources could be found. As the popularity of the network rose, and record companies recognized the potential of the medium as a tool to gain recognition and publicity, they began to create increasingly elaborate clips specifically for the network. Several noted film directors got their start creating music videos, including Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, and David Fincher.

A large number of rock bands and performers of the 1980s were made into household names by MTV. Some 1980s acts immediately identifiable with MTV include Van Halen, The Police, The Cars, Eurythmics, RATT, Culture Club, Def Leppard, Duran Duran, Bon Jovi, and "Weird Al" Yankovic, who made a career out of parodying other artists videos.

The hard rock band KISS publicly appeared without their trademark makeup for the first time on MTV in 1983. Michael Jackson launched the second wave of his career as an MTV staple. Madonna rose to fame on MTV in the 1980s. Madonna is the most successful video performer in MTV history, and to this day she uses MTV to market her music.

Station IDs and slogans

Further information: List of MTV slogans

MTV's innovative station IDs were created by independent animation studios like Colossal Pictures (San Francisco) [1], Broadcast Arts (Washington, D.C.), and Buzzco (New York) [2]. The radical MTV logo was designed by tiny New York design firm Manhattan Design (Pat Gorman, Frank Olinsky, and Patty Rogoff). Alan Goodman and Fred Seibert developed the identity and promotional strategies that put MTV in the forefront of the world media industry by establishing the idea that television channels were brands.

Many of the more successful musicians featured on MTV could frequently be seen doing station identification spots for the network, exclaiming the signature line, I want my MTV!, and other phrases. Over the years, MTV would gather a large list of slogans.

Award shows

Further information: List of MTV award shows

In 1984 the network produced its first MTV Video Music Awards show. Seen as a fit of self-indulgence by a fledgling network at the time, the "VMAs" developed into a music-industry showcase marketed as a hip antidote to the Grammy awards. In 1992, the network would add a movie award show with similar success.

Initial criticism

As early as 1985, because of its visibility as a promotional tool for the recording industry, MTV became criticized as overly commercial. It was accused of denigrating the importance of music in the music industry, replacing it with a purely visual aesthetic), and putting equally popular but less image-centric or single-based acts at a distinct disadvantage. One musician that criticized MTV for these reasons was Dead Kennedys, with the song "MTV - Get off the Air," from the album Frankenchrist. Although it could be said that MTV simply gave airtime to the most popular acts in a given country, it is also possible that these acts became popular simply because of the exposure that MTV gave them.

MTV comes of age

Format evolution

MTV shortly before the transition to non-music programming. This frame is taken from a Take That music video.
Further information: List of MTV shows

Before 1987, MTV featured almost exclusively music videos, but as time passed they introduced a variety of other shows. Some of these new shows, such as 120 Minutes, still featured music videos. However, many of these shows were originally intended for other channels.

This non-music video programming began in the late 1980s with the introduction of a music news show The Week in Rock, which was also the beginning of MTV's news division, MTV News. Around this time, MTV also introduced a dance show Club MTV, a game show Remote Control, and music-based specials such as MTV Unplugged, an acoustic performance show.

These new shows would be just the beginning of new genres of shows to impact MTV. As the format of the network continued to evolve, more genres of shows began to appear. In the early 1990s, MTV debuted its first reality shows, The Real World and Road Rules.

Animated shows

MTV's studios in Times Square, in use since 1997

In the early 1990s, MTV introduced animated shows to its line-up. MTV has a history of cartoons with mature themes, notably Beavis and Butt-head, and its spin-off, Daria. The channel would go on to debut any other animated shows. Few of MTV's other cartoons have been renewed for additional seasons, regardless of their reception.

Variety of programming

By the second half of the 1990s, MTV's programming consisted primarily of non-music shows. In 1997, MTV was being heavily criticized for not playing as many music videos as it had in the past. In response, MTV created four shows that centered around music videos: MTV Live, Total Request, Say What?, and 12 Angry Viewers. Also at this time, MTV introduced its new studios in Times Square.

A year later, in 1998, MTV merged Total Request and MTV Live into a live daily top ten countdown show, Total Request Live, which would become the channel's unofficial flagship program. In 1999, MTV shifted its focus to prank/comedic shows such as The Tom Green Show, Jackass, and Punk'd; and soap operas such as Undressed.

MTV in recent years

Reality shows

Further information: List of MTV shows

In the early 2000s, MTV put a stronger focus on reality shows, building on the success of The Real World and Road Rules in the 1990s. MTV continued to play music videos (albeit rarely) instead of exclusively relegating them to their genre channels; however, the music videos aired either in the early morning hours or in a condensed form on Total Request Live.

In 2000, MTV's Fear became the first 'scary' reality show in which contestants filmed themselves. The show ran for three seasons and spawned numerous imitations, including Fear Factor on NBC.

In 2002, MTV aired the first episode of another reality show, The Osbournes, based on the everyday life of former, Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne, his wife Sharon, and two of their children, Jack and Kelly. The show went on to become one of the network's biggest ever success stories and kick-started a musical career for Kelly Osbourne, while Sharon Osbourne went on to host a talk show on U.S. television.

In 2003, Newlyweds, another popular reality TV show that follows the lives of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, a music celebrity couple, began airing. It ran for four seasons and ended in early 2005 and they later divorced. The success of Newlyweds was followed in June 2004 by The Ashlee Simpson Show, which documented the beginnings of the music career of Ashlee Simpson, Jessica Simpson's younger sister. In the fall of 2004, Ozzy Osbourne's reality show Battle for Ozzfest aired.


In 2004, MTV faced criticism in the wake of the Super Bowl XXXVIII half time show, which it produced. This infamous halftime show, which was shown on live television, featured the partial exposure of one of Janet Jackson's breasts. Afterwards, the NFL indicated that MTV would not produce future Super Bowl halftime shows or any NFL-sponsored public event. In 2006, fans of Janet Jackson started a petition against MTV for blacklisting the video for her single "Call on Me," possibly as a result of the 2004 controversy.

In July 2005, MTV drew heavy criticism for their coverage of Live 8. The network cut to commercials while bands were still performing, specifically legendary rock acts Pink Floyd (during the legendary guitar solo for "Comfortably Numb") and The Who. Criticism was also aimed at MTV and VH1 for focusing too much on ill-informed VJs and not enough on the music. In some instances, VJs referred to the event at "Live 8 2005" or even "Live Aid 8," demonstrating that they had little or no knowledge of the cause going into the event.

25th anniversary

On August 1, 2006, MTV celebrated its 25th anniversary. On their web site,, visitors could watch the very first hour of MTV, including airing the original promos and commercials from Mountain Dew, Atari, Chewels gum, and Jovan. Videos were also shown from The Buggles, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, and more. The introduction of the first five VJs was also shown.

Additionally, put together a "yearbook" consisting of the greatest videos of each year from 1981 to 2006. Along with that, offered a special online viewing of the top music video of each year since 1981.

MTV itself only mentioned the anniversary once on TRL. The main highlight of the day on the channel was The Real World, the show that has divided viewers into two sides: those who think it made the network more of a pop culture force and created the reality television genre, and those who think it caused the network to "jump the shark" by reducing its focus on music videos.

Current trends

Further information: List of MTV shows

In 2005 and 2006, MTV continued its focus on reality shows, with the debuts of popular shows such as Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, NEXT, Two-A-Days, My Super Sweet 16, and Parental Control.

Today, MTV's main source of music video programming is still Total Request Live, airing four times per week. A hip-hop music video show, Sucker Free, also airs regularly. On most days, music video rotation continues in the late night and early morning hours.

Moral influence of MTV

Since its inception, critics of MTV have claimed that the channel's programming promotes bad behavior, including violence and recreational drug use, to the youth of America by embracing the behaviors of certain celebrities who are not good role models. Some critics have even claimed that MTV is "pornography for children."<ref></ref>

In response to this initial criticism, since the early 1990s, MTV restructured its programming to incorporate moral behaviors that might influence their audience. Personalities on the channel began to support environmental issues and emphasize being "socially responsible," encouraging young people to take part in volunteer work in their community.

More recently, in the summer of 2005, MTV began to examine the depiction of women in their programming after women's rights groups criticized MTV for allowing misogyny in images and music videos.


Main article: Censorship on MTV

On the other side of the moral influence debate, MTV has also come under criticism for being too politically correct and sensitive, censoring too much of their programming. Many of MTV's shows were altered or removed from the channel's schedule. Additionally, many music videos aired on the channel were censored, moved to late-night rotation, or banned entirely from the channel.

Social activism

MTV Choose or Lose logo

MTV has a long history of promoting social, political, and environmental activism in young people.

In 1992, MTV started a pro-democracy campaign called Choose or Lose, to encourage up to 20 million people to register to vote, and hosted a town hall forum for Bill Clinton.<ref>MTV's traveling "Choose or Lose" vehicle brings politics. Salon.</ref> In the 1990s and early 2000s, MTV promoted annual campaigns known as Fight For Your Rights, with the slogan "Speak Out/Stand Up Against Violence", to bring forth awareness on America's crime, drugs and violence issues.

On April 6, 2001, MTV voluntarily ceased regular programming for 24 hours as part of the year's hate crimes awareness campaign. On that night, MTV aired a made-for-TV movie Anatomy of a Hate Crime, based on a true story of the 1998 murder of 21-year old Matthew Shepherd, a gay college student.

MTV also aired a popular band's Sum 41 trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, documenting the conflict there. The group ended up being caught in the midst of an attack outside of the hotel and were subsequently flown out of the country.<ref>"Rocked: Sum 41 in Congo" War Child Canada. 2001-2006.</ref>

In recent years, other politically diverse programs on MTV have included True Life, which documents people's lives and problems, and MTV News specials, which center on very current events in both the music industry and the world. One special show covered the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, airing programs focused on the issues and opinions of young people, including a program where viewers could ask questions of Senator John Kerry.<ref>Sherman, Tom, "The Real Story of the Youth Vote in the 2004 Election.", 2004-11-04. Retrieved on 2006-04-14.</ref> MTV worked with P. Diddy's "Vote or Die" campaign, designed to encourage young people to vote.<ref>Vargas, Jose Antonio, "Vote or Die? Well, They Did Vote.", 2004-11-09. Retrieved on 2006-04-14.</ref>

MTV's most recent activism campaign is "think MTV," which discusses current political issues such as gay marriage, U.S. elections, and war in other countries. The slogan of the program is "Reflect. Decide. Do." As part of think MTV, the channel also airs a series of pro-environmental ad spots entitled "Break The Addiction", as a way of encouraging their viewers to find ways to use less fossil fuels and energy.

MTV in popular culture

MTV has been referenced countless times in popular culture. Other TV channels, TV shows, musicians, films, and books have made reference to MTV in their works. An incomplete list of these references can be found at MTV in popular culture.

Beyond MTV

Sister channels in the U.S.

MTV's sister channel MTV2
Further information: List of MTV channels

The advent of satellite television and digital cable brought MTV greater channel diversity, including its current sister channel MTV2, which initially played 24/7 music videos and now focuses on other music-related programming. Two additional channels, MTV Hits and MTV Jams, play music videos exclusively. MTV also broadcasts mtvU, a college-oriented channel on campus at various universities.

In 1985, MTV saw the introduction of its first true sister channel, VH1, short for Video Hits One. Today, MTV Networks still operates VH1, which is aimed at celebrity and popular culture programming, as well as CMT, which targets the country music market. Recently, MTV Networks launched MHD (Music: High Definition), a high definition channel that features programming from all three music-themed channels owned by MTV Networks: MTV, VH1, and CMT.

In 2005 and 2006, MTV launched a series of channels for Asian Americans. The first channel was MTV Desi, launched in July 2005, dedicated towards South-Asian Americans. Next was MTV Chi, in December 2005, which catered to Chinese Americans. The third installment was MTV K, targeted toward Korean Americans, which was launched on June 27, 2006. Each of these channels feature music videos and shows from MTV's international affiliates as well as original U.S. programming, promos, and packaging.

The Internet, the official website of MTV, expands on the channel's broadcasts by bringing additional content to its viewers. The site's notable features include an online version of MTV News, podcasts, and a video streaming service supported by commercials. There are also movie features, profiles and interviews with recording artists and even clips from MTV television programs. In 2006, went through a massive change, transforming the entire site into a video-based entity, in the style of the former MTV Overdrive service.

MTV around the world

Further information: List of MTV channels

MTV Networks and Viacom have launched numerous native-language MTV-branded music channels to countries worldwide. These channels include, but are not limited to, MTV Canada, MTV UK and Ireland, MTV Spain, MTV Austria, MTV France, MTV Germany, MTV Europe, MTV Portugal, MTV Adria, MTV Denmark, MTV Finland, MTV Italy, MTV Netherlands, MTV Norway, MTV Poland, MTV Romania, MTV Lithuania, MTV Latvia, MTV Estonia, MTV Sweden, MTV Asia, MTV Japan, MTV China, MTV Korea, MTV Philippines, MTV Taiwan/Hong Kong, MTV Turkey, MTV Pakistan, MTV India, MTV Latin America, MTV Puerto Rico, MTV Brasil, MTV Australia, MTV New Zealand, MTV Russia, MTV Ukraine, MTV Türkiye, and MTV Base in Africa.

See also

MTV staple TV shows

Video Music Awards,
Total Request Live,
MTV Unplugged,
Laguna Beach,
High School Stories,
Real World/Road Rules Challenge,
The Real World,
My Super Sweet 16,
Parental Control
True Life,



<references />

External links

Viacom Inc.

Corporate Directors: George Abrams | Philippe Dauman (CEO) | Thomas E. Dooley | Ellen V. Futter | Robert Kraft | Alan Greenberg | Charles Phillips | Sumner Redstone (Chairman) | Shari Redstone | Frederic Salerno | William Schwartz

MTV Networks channels in the Americas: CMT | CMT Pure Country | Comedy Central | Logo | MHD | MTV | MTV2 | MTV Brasil (30%) | MTV Chi | MTV Desi | MTV Hits | MTV Jams | MTV K | MTV Networks Latin America | MTV Tempo | MTV Tr3s | mtvU | Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite/Nick Jr. | NickToons Network | Nick GAS | Noggin/The N | Spike TV | TV Land | VH1 | VH1 Brazil | VH1 Classic | VH1 Soul | VH1 Uno
BET Networks:BET | BET J | BET Hip-Hop | BET Gospel
MTV Networks film production: CMT Films | MTV Films | Nickelodeon Movies
MTV Networks Europe: MTV Adria | MTV Base | MTV Central | MTV Classic | MTV Dance | MTV Eesti | MTV Europe | MTV Flux (UK) | MTV Italy (49%) | MTV Latvija | MTV Lietuva | MTV România | MTV Türkiye | MTV Russia | MTV UK and Ireland | MTV2 Europe | Nickelodeon UK(50%) | Nicktoons UK(50%) | Nick Jr. (UK)(50%) | TMF Flanders | TMF Nederland | TMF UK | VH1 UK | VH1 Classic UK | VIVA
MTV Networks Asia Pacific: MTV Australia | MTV India | MTV New Zealand | MTV Pakistan | MTV Philippines | Nickelodeon Australia | Nickelodeon Japan | Nickelodeon South East Asia | Nickelodeon New Zealand | Nick Jr. Australia | VH1 Australia
MTV Networks internet services: Atom Entertainment | GameTrailers | iFilm | MTV Overdrive | Neopets | Quizilla | Xfire
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Misc. Assets: Bubba Gump Shrimp Company | Famous Music | Harmonix Music Systems | Paramount Comedy

Annual Revenue: $17.3 billion USD (Image:Green Arrow Up.svg10% 3Q 2005) | Employees: 38,350 | Stock Symbol: NYSE: VIAB | Website:

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