Motorola wants its MTV on cell phones

The two companies say they've struck a deal that seeks to turn teenagers' mobile phone screens into a hip broadcast medium.

Wireless phone maker Motorola and music programmer MTV International on Wednesday said they struck an alliance that seeks to turn teenagers' mobile phone screens into a hip broadcast medium.

"We are creating mobile music," Geoffrey Frost, global head of marketing for Motorola, told a news conference at the CeBit electronics trade show in Hannover, Germany.

"What we are looking at is extending the MTV channel to the one thing that doesn't sit in your living room and on your desk," he said.

The three-year, $75 million deal pairs Motorola with the non-U.S. operations of cable TV network MTV, which target teenage audiences in markets where cable TV usage remains at the relatively low levels reached in the mid-1980s in the United States.

Motorola, based near Chicago, has been seeking for the past two years to reposition itself as a youthful marketing brand instead of focusing on its engineering roots, which along the way have produced inventions such as the commercial car radio in the 1930s and the cell phone in the 1960s.

Motorola and MTV International, a unit of U.S. media conglomerate Viacom, said the partnership looks to tap MTV's insights and influence into the ever-evolving music and youth-lifestyle market.

This partnership "will take shape on television, the Internet and on wireless phones," Frost said.

Toward that end, Motorola said it plans to pre-install MTV programming on upcoming models, including caller ring tones based on popular MTV tunes, phone-based video games, and other MTV-branded material such as music-themed screensavers. Live updates on local concerts and other events will be delivered.

Some phone models due out in the second half of this year will feature FM radios with high-quality stereo sound.

Also in the works are plans by the companies to produce 30-minute programs in each of MTV's regional markets that spotlight new music and developing artists. MTV produces music programming in 17 languages that can be seen in 164 countries.

The two companies are seeking to find innovative ways to market music, media and phones to a global youth culture for which "text messaging," or typing short-messages to friends, has become a primary way of socializing that has yet to catch on big-time in the United States.

Marketing efforts over the past year between the two companies have included parties in 20 European cities and a concert featuring Russian boy band "Money Troll" in Moscow, Frost said.

"Motorola sponsored it; MTV produced it," was the formula, Frost said, adding that this kind of marketing will remain an important part of the two companies' deal.

"MTV has figured out how to target local content in emerging markets like India, Russia and Chinese cities outside of the biggest markets. It's as much about the things that matter to young people as much as it is just about music."

Story Copyright  © 2003 Reuters Limited.  All rights reserved.

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