MTV Makes Bold Move in Primetime

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Using several shows coming out of its development slate,MTV: Music Television is creating a primetime music block by stripping four video-basedseries on weeknights, officials said last week.

MTV's new block debuts April 6, and it will airweeknights from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.. Artists Cut and Say What? -- the first ofmore than 20 pilots currently in development to go on-air as regular series -- will beamong MTV's stripped shows. They will air at 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., respectively, onweeknights.

"MTV's primetime has been without a consistentstrategy," said Brian Graden, MTV's executive vice president of programming."What we want our viewers to know is that they can make real appointment viewing withMTV. We are going into primetime with a relatively bold move."

As part of the new schedule, MTV's award-winning RockumentaryRe-Mix series will move to primetime at 9 p.m., along with a half-hour countdown ofthe top 10 video requests of the day, airing at 9:30 p.m..

Starting in May, MTV will also begin adding newexperimental elements to its regularly scheduled videos. Video Histories and Videographieswill accompany select videos throughout the day, supplying viewers with historicalinformation about the featured artist and streams of CD-ROM-like information.

Graden, who was promoted as MTV's programming guru inDecember to revamp its schedule, is aiming to return the network's focus tomusic-oriented shows.

"We have to aggressively remind people what MTV standsfor," Graden said. "And we don't want people to think of videos as apassive medium. We have to remind everyone that music videos are an art form."

This year, MTV has planned its most aggressive developmentslate ever, green-lighting pilots including Artists Cut and Say What?ArtistsCut goes behind the scenes to explain how videos were made and their connections toartists' songs. Say What? features the lyrics to songs while their videos air.

The new Video Histories and Videographiessegments are based on -- and are really shorter versions of -- several of the new pilots,Graden added.

He declined to specify MTV's ratings goals for its newblock. In February, MTV drew a 0.6 rating in primetime.

"We are not looking at this as, 'Well, we need a10 percent increase for this to work,'" he said. "We hope to see a haloeffect on other programming from it."

Weekly concert series Live from the 10 Spot willreturn for a new season on MTV April 10 with a performance by Matchbox 20 in New York.

MTV also said last week that it was holdingits first-ever nationwide search for a VJ from April 13 to 18 at the network's TimesSquare studio in New York.