April Fools: MTV set to relaunch

I had some fun with the Internet by writing this fake news article from the “AP”, titled “‘AMTV’ First of Many Changes in Store at MTV”, for April Fools Day. I regret to inform you that this will never happen. But it’s fun to dream, right?

‘AMTV’ First of Many Changes in Store at MTV

By ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK (AP) — MTV announced plans Wednesday to relaunch itself as “Music Television” effective August 1.

Four months from now, and exactly 28 years after its original launch in 1981, MTV’s origins as a 24-hour home for music on TV will be realized again as its new branding effort gets underway. Music videos and other music-related programming will comprise the entire daily schedule on the network for the first time in nearly 20 years.

The network had taken its first steps in this direction with the debut of “AMTV,” a six-hour block of music videos, Monday morning. The program highlights classic music videos as well as new ones, resurrecting some videos that the network had not aired in more than a decade. Viewer reaction to “AMTV” has been overwhelmingly positive since its debut.

“Music Television is what we once were, and have no doubt, it is what we will be again,” said Stephen Friedman, general manager of MTV. The network has not used its formal tagline in recent years as other programming, including a full slate of reality-based programs, eclipsed music-based content on the channel.

While the network has gained a younger demographic in recent years, the relaunch will target the 18-34 demographic, which MTV has seen decline in number since the beginning of the decade. “Sophistication is the key,” Friedman said. “Our recent focus groups have shown viewers want a network that truly cares about music as much as they do.”

One-time VJ for the network, Carson Daly, is also slated to return. He said he had been considering the move since resurfacing to host the finale of “Total Request Live,” the long-running video countdown program, in November.

Daly said the time is right to make the move. “‘Last Call’ has been an ongoing experiment, and NBC has been very gracious to me over these past seven years,” he said. “But we’ve been shooting ‘Last Call’ on location since last month, and it’s been all about the music.”

He plans to bring a similar program to “Music Television” in August. “The niche we’ve carved at ‘Last Call’–live performances, interviews, going deep into the minds of today’s influential artists–that’s what you’ll see as we make the switch back to MTV,” Daly said.

NBC confirmed the final episode of “Last Call with Carson Daly” will air May 29, alongside the finale of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” With two full-length late-night programs originating from Los Angeles effective this September, NBC had been looking to relocate or otherwise refocus the 1:35 timeslot, according to a spokesperson for the network.

Daly’s new program on MTV will join more than a dozen new music series, according to Friedman. However, he would not yet venture into more detail about the other new series. “We’ll open up about what we have in store as we approach August 1,” Friedman said. “Keep watching MTV in the meantime as we reveal the details.”

In a reversal from previous strategy at MTV Networks, the subsidiary of conglomerate Viacom that controls MTV’s cable outlets, sister channel MTV2 will also relaunch as the primary venue for MTV’s existing reality-based programming.

MTV2 debuted in 1996 as “M2,” a 24-hour music network, at a period of time in which MTV had begun to shift its primary focus to other programming. The joint relaunch August 1 will essentially reverse the roles of each channel.

The switch will allow MTV to continue broadcasting its existing slate of programs on MTV2. “Our flagship shows like ‘The Real World’ and ‘The Hills’ have millions of loyal fans,” Friedman said. “I want to assure our viewers these programs are only switching networks; they are not going away.”

Critics insist such a drastic programming shift may alienate current viewers of both networks, leading to a decrease in ratings across the board. Friedman remains more optimistic, however. “We’ve done the research, and we are certain the circumstances are right to move forward with this concept,” he said.

Facing competition from popular websites such as YouTube, the new “Music Television” may encounter an uphill battle in today’s era of instant gratification and shortened attention spans. However, MTV moves toward the relaunch with confidence that its “AMTV” program struck the right balance with viewers.

The decision may have also been motivated by the current economic climate. In-house music video series carry a significantly lower cost of production than even reality-based programs. Should MTV retain just one-third of its current viewership after the relaunch, it would still remain a profitable venture for Viacom.

MTV’s headquarters in Times Square, New York will undergo a complete remodeling before “Music Television” launches. The network said it will position its Times Square studios as the “home base” of the majority of its original content.

The network’s Internet properties, MTV.com and MTVMusic.com, will provide much more information about the impending change in the days and weeks to come, Friedman said.

“Music Television” debuts August 1 on all cable and satellite providers currently carrying MTV.

This fake news was originally published at ATRL.

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