Israel to get its own MTV
While cable viewers here have had easy access to MTV Europe and VH1 Europe for many years, the days of a full-fledged MTV Israel are imminent, according to MTV Europe’s Managing Director and Executive Vice President Bhavneet Singh, who was in recently town for talks with the company’s partner in Israel – Ananey Communications, one of the country’s leading cable channel developers.
Singh is a big fan of Israel and it’s tech ingenuity and sophistication. In fact, two years ago, Israel became the first country to launch an online MTV – MTV.co.il - without having a TV channel to go along with it.
“Technology-wise, you guys are like the South Korea of this part of the world, in terms of your broadband penetration and your consumption of media,” Singh told me in a meeting in Tel Aviv. “You’re known as a people and culture of being ahead of the game – whether it’s ICQ or any number of new tech companies coming out of here. That was one of the reasons giving us the confidence to say, hey, an online introduction to MTV is a nice way to do this.”
The MTV Israel free-on-demand web site features many of the staples located on the MTV Europe TV channel that cable subscribers can view, like The Hills, Cribs and Pimp My Ride, as well as local programming like celebrity news show Mehadura.
According to Ananey’s Udi Meron, an Israeli TV pioneer who founded the Kids Channel back in the early days of cable TV, the popularity of the site has convinced Singh and his colleagues that the time is ripe for a Sabra MTV music channel to go along with the more than 50 distinct MTV channels around the world.
“Everyone finds their own balance – we want to add of course the element of Israeli music and Israeli lifestyle. For Israel it’s very important, internally and externally, because one of the things we want to do is make MTV Israel a window to the world, and to the MTV network,” said Meron.
While Israelis like Becky Griffin, Eden Harel and Jason Danino-Holt have served as MTV Europe VJs, and on November 5th in Berlin, Ninet Tayeb will represent Israel at the MTV television network’s Europe Music Awards, Meron sees a unique opportunity in MTV Israel for the country’s virtues to be exported to youth around the world, through original programming that Singh said was of sufficient quality to be dubbed and sent to MTV affiliates everywhere.
While neither Singh or Meron would commit to a target date for the channel’s launch, Singh said that it would “be sooner than later.”