Music powerhouse Polygram and Viacom's MTV Networks are joining forces to challenge the hold Rupert Murdoch's Star TV has on the booming Asian youth market. On Apr. 21, the 50-50 partnership will launch a Mandarin Chinese MTV channel that will initially target cable viewers in Taiwan. They'll follow on May 5 with an English MTV venture that will focus on India. Polygram CEO Alain Levy says Asia is the hottest market for the company's music and discs, accounting for more than 20% of its $5 billion world sales and growing at a double-digit clip.
MTV CEO Thomas E. Freston says the Asian satellite and cable market is expected to grow explosively over the next two decades. But he cautions that the venture, like other Asian TV operations, expects to lose money for a few years because the market isn't large enough yet to cover costs.