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MTV revamps college network

Outlet reaches more than 700 campuses
/ Source: The Associated Press

MTV reintroduced its college-targeted network Thursday with a new name: mtvU.

“We basically have to put college students’ lives front and center, and speak in their language,” said Van Toffler, president of mtvU as well as MTV and MTV2.

Previously known as CTN: College Television Network, the outlet, acquired by MTV in October 2000, pipes student-oriented programming and ads into more than 700 U.S. college campuses.

Airing around the clock, it’s seen on specially installed televisions in dining rooms, student lounges and other public areas, and through certain cable systems also is available in dorm rooms.

Among the new initiatives for mtvU: a special selection of new artists whose videos will be featured on the TV channel, accompanied by free music downloads on the mtvU Web site and live performances at campuses on mtvU-arranged tours.

Other campus outreach efforts will include bringing notable figures to college classrooms as “fill-in teachers” — including Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and rocker Marilyn Manson, who will teach a session on music and marketing.

A team of roving “VJs” broadcast on location from campuses, as well as from the mtvU’s New York headquarters, and the network will continue to offer news and information in partnership with CBS News. (CBS, like MTV, is owned by Viacom.)

“We have to reach (students) everywhere they hang out: on air, online and on campus,” said Stephen Friedman, mtvU general manager, who called the revamped network “a laboratory and an incubator” in catering to its special audience.

The network reaches a potential student audience of 5.5 million. Participating universities get televisions tuned exclusively to mtvU, and they receive airtime each quarter-hour for their own announcements to students, but receive no monetary compensation, he said.