This Sunday, the Czech Republic will see the arrival of MTV Czech, a local version of the worldwide music network MTV. The channel will be operated by the international company CME. Its directors are confident MTV Czech will quickly become the most watched channel for viewers aged 15 through 24.
28 years ago, MTV kicked off its broadcasting premiere with a video of “Video killed the Radio Star,” a song by the UK New Wave outfit The Buggles. The song’s title proved to become a reality, as the music video channel revolutionized the way music was marketed and consumed in the Western world. Today, MTV broadcasts in 162 countries and 33 languages.
It took 20 years of free market economy in the Czech Republic for a local version to arrive here, in the month that the nation celebrates the 20 year anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution. Is this a coincidence, I asked the director of MTV Czech, Alex Ruzek.
“Yes, in some respect, we are starting a radio campaign this week that will talk about this very topic, and we recognize that the timing is quite appropriate.”
The videos chosen for Sunday’s premiere of MTV Czech seem a bit less symbolic than “Video killed the radio star” – such as Jay-Z’s new video “Empire State of Mind,” a premiere for Czech viewers or the video to “V bezvětří” by the first Czech Pop Idol winner Aneta Langerová. The channel will sponsor local concerts such as The Prodigy, and the program is composed of lifestyle, reality television and music elements. Original programming isn’t expected until spring.
“I say it to everyone I talk to, to me MTV is more than music, is more than television, it’s an experience, it’s a brand that people identify with, it’s multimedia, it’s not just a TV channel anymore, you can hear the brand on the radio, you can see it on the screen, you can see it at live concerts and events, you can see it in merchandising and on T-shirts, everywhere you look you can see MTV, and I think that’s the strength of that brand.“
The Czech language version of MTV is the company’ 68th regional channel and its licensing and launching are believed to have cost tens of millions of Czech crowns. MTV Czech is expected to reach some 1.5 million households in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. MTV emerging markets strategy director Nick Walters explains why MTV chose the international company CME, which also owns TV Nova, to collaborate with.
“I think that they clearly have a great position on the market, they have a great operational team and we feel really goof about Alex Ruzek’s and her team’s ability to be good partners to us and advise and guide us on what the right things are for us to be doing in the market on how to best take our brand and our content and localize it and work with them in both the Czech and the Slovak position.”
A few days before the channel was scheduled to premiere, there was some confusion as to if the Czech Republic might have two MTV channels in the future. The Poland-based company MTV Networks stated that it did not have any plans to pull the international version of MTV that has been airing in the Czech Republic off the market. TV Nova director Petr Dvořák said he didn’t know anything about MTV Network’s plan to remain on the air and that MTV Czech will replace MTV Europe in the Czech Republic.