MTV unites Europe with high-def channel


MTV is rolling out its first Pan-European HD channel Sept. 15 in what MTVNI president Bob Bakish promises to be "a major growth period" for HDTV.

The channel will show a mix of music programs from MTV and children's programming from Nickelodeon and initially will go live in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Poland and Sweden.

It will add distribution in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, the U.K. and Spain by year's end, adding six Latin American markets — including Brazil, Chile and Ecuador — by the end of 2009.

Bakish said MTV has a library of more than 300 hours of HD programming commissioned over the past two years and that the market for HD is poised for growth.

"HD is a great consumer product. Right now, if you look at the statistics, there are around 100 million pay TV homes in Europe, and around 4 million-4.5 million are HD-enabled," he said, adding that MTV's channel will be in about half a million homes at launch. "HD is in its early stages, but it is a natural evolution for us."