Japan first to network with myMTV

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TOKYO -- Viacom International Japan on Wednesday announced the launch of free, ad-supported mobile social network myMTV, the first entertainment-based service of its kind.

MyMTV members can create their own profile pages, uploading videos taken with their mobile phones and linking to pages created by their friends as well as recording artists. A number of J-pop acts, MTV Japan VJs and guests from the channel's programs are creating pages.

"Members can feel closer to artists and musicians by receiving video comments, diaries and the latest information directly to their pages," Viacom's Masami Minemura said.

The service is being launched in conjunction with Septeni Holdings, a digital ad sales company, and hopes to cash in on Japan's rapidly growing mobile ad sales market, which is about double the size of that in the U.S.

Japan's advanced 3G mobile networks boast more than 75 million users and are expected to generate $450 million in ad revenue this year, a figure expected to rise to $1.1 billion by the end of the decade.

Social networks are big business in Japan, with Mixi the current pick of the bunch, and mobile versions are beginning to take hold. MyMTV's main mobile competitor is likely to be Mobage Town, the gaming network service that is also free and ad supported. It passed the 5 million member mark in May.

Though myMTV will be available on all three major Japanese mobile carriers, Minemura said that users of doom's i-mode 3G service, "can download an application that will allow simultaneous Web browsing and video viewing, the first of its kind in the world.

Minemura said members can also opt for personalized pages. "Users can customize their pages with page skins, individualized designs created by some of Japan's top graphic designers," she said.

Content will include such U.S. MTV series as "Pimp My Ride" as well as MTV Japan productions.
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