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MTVi to make digital marriage with Mischief

MTV's online division is expected to announce that it is acquiring Mischief New Media to boost content and technology offerings throughout its Web network.

MTV Internet, the online division of MTV, is expected to announce today that it is acquiring Mischief New Media to boost content and technology offerings throughout its Web network.

With the acquisition, MTVi will add Mischief's into SonicNet, the company's music news and information hub. MusicStation's sites include TV music guide RockOnTV, music hub MusicNewswire, entertainment news site ShowBizWire, and online music club guide The CD Club Web Server.

MTVi chief executive Nicholas Butterworth would not disclose the amount of the acquisition but said it was for all of Mischief Media's assets. Jason Hirschhorn, the founder of Mischief New Media, will join MTVi as vice president of product development for SonicNet.

The acquisition comes as MTVi plans to go public, part of a move to refurbish its digital media focus. The company filed for an initial public offering in February after undergoing a series of changes to contend with the growing demand for online music and information.

MTVi revamped its network of sites last fall. The move emphasized parent company Viacom's "Buggles Project" in an effort to beef up its music brands with more e-commerce, TV cross-promotion, video and audio streams, and Web radio.

But as the division plans its spinoff, recent government filings show MTVi in a licensing dispute over its Net radio business. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it received letters from "two major record companies" asking MTVi to pay them licensing fees for broadcasting their music online.

The addition of See related story: World is waking up to Net radio MusicStation will help MTVi beef up its music-related TV listings and its personalization features, according to Butterworth.

"This helps us aggregate an incredible amount of music content from around the Internet and gives users the ability to customize music information," Butterworth said in an interview. "We're also particularly interested in the database of music and television events, which helps us build convergence programs."