I’ve often wondered what it would take for MTV to clean up its act. Now, we know. The aging music network wants Middle Eastern eyeballs, and it’ll do anything to cater to its audience–including toning down raunchy content and covering up scantily-clad hostesses. If it were America, the libs in charge of MTV would consider this caving in to Neanderthal social conservatives. In the Middle East, it’s considered doing smart business and paying cultural respect:
MTV is hoping hip-hop and reality television tailored and sanitized for a more conservative Middle East will draw young Arabs away from dozens of locally produced music video channels that already dominate the market.
MTV Arabia, which launched over the weekend, will feature 60 percent international music and 40 percent Arabic music, along with local adaptations of the channel’s popular nonmusic shows.
But MTV, which is known for airing provocative videos featuring scantily clad women, says the Arab version of the pop-culture channel will show less bare skin and profanity.
“When we come to people’s homes, we want to earn their respect,” said Abdullatif al-Sayegh, chief executive of Arab Media Group, which along with Viacom’s MTV Networks International owns MTV Arabia. He explained that there will be “culturally sensitive editors going through content of the programming.”
Snortingly (yes, it’s not a real word, but it fits), MTV believes it can peddle hip-hop and R&B videos to the Arab world–as well as a special version of “Pimp My Ride”–without offending anyone in the home of the Religion of Perpetual Outrage:
Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of satellite channels in the region that feature soulful male crooners from the Gulf and female singers from Lebanon and Syria. MTV officials say this is why their channel is focusing on hip-hop and R&B, two music genres that are underserved despite being popular throughout the region.
But to please a more conservative audience, MTV Arabia will tailor some of its programming and keep provocative hip-hop videos to a minimum.
“We hope to provide a platform for Arab youth to break boundaries without disrespecting their tradition and culture,” said Bhavneet Singh, managing director of the Emerging Markets Group, part of MTV Networks International…
…MTV Arabia also will broadcast an Arabic version of the popular car-makeover show “Pimp My Ride,” as well as “Al Helm” (“The Dream”), which is based on the show “Made,” in which MTV transforms awkward teenagers into the successful models or rap stars of their dreams.
Shows in Arabic will be subtitled in English for foreign viewers, channel officials said.
Wonder if any beloved Jihad Rap artists will make it on the channel?