MTVN: MHD a Go Jan. 16

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MTV Networks said Tuesday that it will launch MHD, its first HD channel, Jan. 16.

The network will contain programming from MTV: Music Television, VH1 and Country Music Television.

While it will initially be a challenge for MTVN to obtain HD videos since most record companies aren’t shooting content in HD, the network will also air HDTV concerts and original programming shot in HD.

MTVN executives said they’re looking to take advantage of a rise in U.S. sales of HDTV sets, which are expected to grow from 10 million to 30 million during the next few years.

“It’s 18- to 34-year-olds that are going to be buying them first,” MTVN executive vice president Jeff Yapp said, referring to the programmer’s target demographic.

MTVN senior VP of affiliate marketing Jessica Heacock said the programmer already has distribution deals lined up for MHD, but she declined to name any cable or satellite providers that have agreed to carry the network or to quantify how many subscribers MHD will count at its launch.

Regular shows on MHD will include MTV Unplugged, VH1 Storytellers, CMT Crossroads and the MTV Video Music Awards.

MTVN executives previewed the channel Tuesday morning at its Times Square studio in Manhattan, with one of its VJs pressing a faux launch button in the studio that triggered a montage of MHD clips that ran on a giant video billboard visible from the studio on Broadway.

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