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Viacom's MTV launches Web-based TV channel

MTV Networks, home to raucous pop culture television hits like "The Osbournes" and "Punk'd," yesterday launched a free Web-based "channel" that places many of its popular programs on the Internet.

MTV, a unit of media conglomerate Viacom Inc., debuted "MTV Overdrive," a Website where viewers watch full length music video on demand, extended versions of programs that have aired on MTV's television network and original video updates from its MTV News operation.

With Overdrive, now in limited testing and due for full release April 25, MTV joins a host of companies using high-speed Internet connections to deliver high-quality video to consumers without using a TV, including Walt Disney, TiVo, Microsoft Corp., Alcatel, Akimbo and other telecommunications providers.

"With an incredibly high percentage of young people using broadband, it seemed essential to create a new hybrid screen with its own content," said Jason Hirschhorn, Senior Vice President of Digital Music & Media at MTV Networks.

The service will feature music videos, clips from live performances and shows like "TRL," movie trailers and eventually programs related to video games and fashion.

It will be supported by inserted video advertising and billboard ads from Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures, as well as other top advertisers from the TV network.

Van Toffler, President of MTV Networks Group said he is not concerned that putting the shows on the Web will draw viewers away from the MTV television franchise.

"The TV experience is still great. Our ratings are moving higher and we don't fear that (losing viewers)," he said at a press conference. "(Also) we are capturing money that is going to new media."

Toffler added that the company is in talks with cable operators such as Comcast about possibly delivering the channel to cable subscribers, but said there were no deals in place.

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