Available in 25 percent of households worldwide, MTV (music television) boldly promotes itself as ‘the global voice of youth culture’. Launched in the USA on 1 August 1981, MTV broadcasts music news, promotions, interviews, concert information and ‘rockumentaries’ as well as promotional music videos. MTV Europe was launched in London on 1 August 1987 as a ‘24 hours-a-day music and youth-oriented entertainment television channel’. In Europe, it broadcasts thirty-seven countries and over fiftyfour million households through satellite, cable and terrestrial distribution, using the English language. The leading European consumer is France (fifteen million households), followed by Italy (eleven million); the UK has approximately four and one-half million viewing homes. Russia is a growing and important market with MTV accessible in some thirty million homes. Despite its American origins, some 90 percent of MTV Europe’s programming is originated and produced in Europe. In addition, MTV broadcasts public service announcements on issues such as AIDS, racism, drugs and the environment.
   MTV has been seen by some theorists as a fine example of postmodern culture (see postmodernism) with its frenzied and fragmented approach to scheduling. It is argued that this fragmented ‘cut and paste’ approach works on the level of parody and pastiche by merging high and low culture, much in the same way that the sampler has been seen as a postmodern musical magpie in terms of music production. Other have taken a contradictory line, arguing that far from the approach above, MTV increasingly conforms to established scheduling patterns, and that far from diversifying culture in the way outlined above by this ‘pick and mix’ approach, it may serve to maintain these lines of demarcation with most audiences being increasingly ‘defined’. The international dimension to MTV makes it a very important player in the global music industry. It has the power to shift artists from their national marketplaces to not only the wider European and American markets but beyond into Asia, India, South America and Japan. It remains to be seen whether this cultural globalization will result in further standardization of product at the expense of traditional national and regional distinctions.
   See also: pop television
   Further reading
    Banks, J. (1996) Monopoly Television: MTV’s Quest to Control the Music, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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