Viacom flexes Flux in Japan

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TOKYO -- Viacom Inc. on Monday announced the release of its Flux video-sharing broadband site in Japan.

Viacom's MTV will provide much of the visual content, although it also offers social networking functions and lateral communication with fellow site users, according to Tony Elison, senior vp Viacom International Japan.

"Japan has long had a large advertising market but a very small cable television market, so our task was to make the most of this opportunity," he said. "We already had a lot of content and Flux is an effort to bring that all together in the only way that is possible, on the Net."

Users will be able to access MTV videos and longer programing anywhere in the world, but also build their own "channel" of selected downloads that can then be shared -- everything from home videos to "Sponge Bob Squarepants" and U2 videos.

Users also will be able to upload their own images, Elison said.

Other features include the ability to leap from a music video to related content, including songs by the same artist or a similar genre. MTV will add brief commercials between clips to fund the service.

Flux has been designed in Japan -- to take advantage of more than 23.3 million broadband subscribers here -- and subsequently tested in the U.K. and Italy, but is attracting interest in other parts of the world, including the U.S.

One of Flux's initial partners in Japan is BET Networks, with senior vp Michael Armstrong describing the opportunity for the premium brand of African-American programming as "unique and very exciting."

"This country has shown passion for the adoption of hip hop music, in particular, and we are looking to build on that interest in the future to bring the very best of black culture to Japan, from fashion, news, entertainment, documentaries and movies," he said. "The social network function will give us the opportunity for a unique dialogue with the audience."

Drawing on the best of MTV and incorporating elements of MySpace and YouTube, Viacom Japan aims for Flux to "bring about a completely new type of entertainment," Elison said.
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