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MTV2

MTV2 is a cable network that is widely available in the United States on digital cable and satellite television, and is progressively being added to basic cable lineups across the nation. It also has a European counterpart broadcast from London, UK. MTV2 began broadcasting on August 1, 1996, MTV's fifteenth anniversary. The purpose of the channel was to give music fans a place to see constant, commercial-free music videos, once the original MTV had started concentrating on reality television and soap operas.

MTV2 (originally known as just 'M2') was created to show more alternative types of music and older music videos than regular MTV did in 1996. However, this did not mean that MTV2 never played anything current or mainstream. It prided itself on being a "diverse mix" of all types of music. The only problem was that MTV2 had very limited availability for its first couple of years, during a time when digital and satellite television were not at all mainstream. MTV2's biggest group of subscribers for the first year or so were college campuses that provided their students with satellite television. MTV2 also broadcast live over the internet during its early years, but was similarly ahead of its time, in a period when few people had broadband internet connections.

During the early years of the channel, the music videos ran on 8-hour rotations, so that the same block of videos repeated three times every day: from 6 AM to 2 PM, 2 PM to 10 PM, and finally from 10 PM to 6 AM. A new block would then start again at 6 AM. During these years, MTV2 only had two VJ's, Jancee Dunn[?] and Matt Pinfield[?]. They were rarely seen on screen and they hand-picked all the music videos that were played for the eight hours every day. Matt Pinfield eventually went on to host shows on regular MTV, while Jancee remained at MTV2 through 2001. The European version was very similar to the US channel, taking the same music policy, VJ segments and on-screen presentation. There was however the exception of a newer, separate German MTV2, broadcast from Berlin, which bizarrely broadcast the same pop music formula as its original German MTV counterpart.

MTV2 was almost always just a random blend of music, though occassional themed specials were aired. One of the first ones was the "Smashing Pumpkins Videography," where all of the band's videos were played in chronological order. MTV2 would often invite musicians to hand pick blocks of videos or air hour-long blocks (which would eventually be known as "Artist Collections") of videos by one band or musician.

In honor of the millennium, MTV2 attempted to play every music video in the MTV library starting on January 1, 2000, in alpahbetical order. While a majority of videos were played, many were skipped over. The special ended in mid-April 2000. Partially through the special, MTV2 changed its scheduling from 3 8-hour blocks a day to two 12-hour blocks a day, so that it would finish sooner and they would be able to get back to airing new videos again.

In late 2000, Viacom, MTV and MTV2's parent company, bought out the independent, viewer-requested "jukebox" music video channel known as The Box. Starting on January 1, 2001, all households that had received The Box began to receive MTV2 in its place, putting the channel into millions of additional households.

Around this time, MTV2 started to show commercials and began to separate the types of videos it played by genre. Hip hop and soul music (hosted by a new VJ, Steph Lova[?]) was played for an hour every weekday at 10 AM and 10 PM. Rock music played every weekday at 9 AM and 9 PM (hosted by another new VJ and former K-ROQ radio DJ, Chris Booker). A new show hosted by Jancee Dunn called "MTV2 Request" aired every weekday between 11 AM and 12 PM, and again between 11 PM and midnight. All the videos played on "MTV2 Request" were selected by online viewer requests. Another new show called Control Freak began in 2001, airing weekdays from 8 to 9 PM. It used real-time viewer voting to select the next video to be played on the channel (out of three choices), while the current video was playing. The majority of the daytime schedule still featured a somewhat diverse mix of rap, rock, & pop, and new & old videos.

In late 2001, MTV2 held auditions for new VJ's. Steph Lova, Jancee Dunn, and Chris Booker[?] all disappeared, replaced with Jim Shearer[?], who would go on to become the "main" VJ, in the heavily genre-segregated MTV2; Abby Gennet[?], who began to host "MTV2 Rock," which was now being played between 3 and 5 PM every weekday afternoon; Quddus[?], a regular MTV VJ, who would host "MTV2 Soul," which would air between 9 and 11 AM every weekday; and La La & DJ Clue (a well known hip-hop mix DJ), both of whom would host "MTV2 Hip-Hop," which would be played between 10 PM and midnight every weeknight. Around this time 120 Minutes, a long-running show which featured exclusively independent, new, and groundbreaking musicians who typically are not ever heard on mainstream radio in America, was moved from its weekly timeslot of Sunday nights between 8 and 10 PM to Sunday nights between 11 PM and 1 AM. Jim Shearer also tookover hosting duty from Jancee Dunn.

During the week between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve of 2001, MTV2 promised to play every video that had debuted on the channel during the entire year of 2001, Monday through Saturday between 10 AM and 8 PM each day, alphabteically by video title. As had happened with their previous attempt to do something similar, several videos were skipped over as a result of bad scheduling and an overemphasis on fitting in commercials.

With the start of 2002 MTV2's block of techno and dance music, Amp, which had aired Sunday nights between 10 PM and midnight, was replaced by a show called MTV2 Dance. This became a three-hour block of dance and techno, which featured some more obscure music by little-known techno DJ's, but also incorporated the videos for mainstream, popular dance songs, by artists such as Amber and Kylie Minogue. The show also was known for playing dance remixes of pop videos, such as the Hex Hector Remix of Jennifer Lopez' "Waiting For Tonight", the Metro Remix of Enrigue Iglesias[?]' "Hero", and the Thunderpuss Remix of Whitney Houston's "It's Not Right, But It's OK". MTV2 Dance originally aired every Sunday morning between 1 and 4 AM.

In spring of 2002, MTV2 altered its format once again. New shows such as Chart2Chart (hosted by Jim Shearer[?]), which aired the most popular videos from the pop, rap, rock, & dance, singles and albums charts, began. "Spankin' New" was a show that featured the newest videos of the week, and "Extreme Rock" began to air late nights on weekdays, showcasing hard rock and metal music, such as Godsmack, Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Guns 'n Roses. "Riffs & Rhymes," appeared on the daily weekday schedule between 5 and 6 PM, and featured videos and bands that combined the sounds of rock and rap music, such as The Roots, Linkin Park, P.O.D., and Limp Bizkit. Chris Booker, after only a brief absence from the channel, was brought back in order to host the show. "Riffs & Rhymes" only lasted until the summer of 2002, but "Extreme Rock," "Spankin' New," and "Chart2Chart" have remained to the present (2003).

In March of 2002, in order to complement regular MTV's news documentary on the 20 most controversial music videos ever made, MTV2 aired the full-length videos, many of which were previously banned from American cable television, in a three hour, late-night TV-MA-rated special, hosted by Andrew WK. In addition to playing the top 20 that were discussed on MTV's special, which included The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up," Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," Eminem's "Stan," and Madonna's "Justify My Love," MTV2 played Bjork's "Pagan Poetry," Metallica's "Turn The Page," Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker," The Cardigans' "My Favorite Game," and U.N.K.L.E.[?]'s "Rabbit In Your Headlight" as 'bonus' controversial videos.

During Memorial Day Weekend of 2002, MTV2 played a special called "Increase The Beat". Over 400 music videos, ranging from pop stars like Pink, Jennifer Lopez, Destiny's Child, & Brandy, hip-hoppers like P. Diddy, Ja Rule, Dr. Dre, Usher, Missy Elliott, & DMX, techno[?] and dance acts, such as Cher[?], Whitney Houston, the Chemical Brothers, & IIO, to punk bands, such as No Doubt, the Ramones, Blondie, & the Offspring, to classic videos by some of MTV's biggest stars, such as the Beastie Boys, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Michael & Janet Jackson, Prince, & Madonna, to new videos by then-unknown musicians like Norah Jones, the Nappy Roots[?], were represented. The videos were arranged in order from slowest to fastest, based on the number of beats per minute of the song. The slowest video played was Maxwell[?]'s "This Woman's Work," which was 55 BPM, while the fastest, Nine Inch Nails' "March Of The Pigs" was 255 BPM. "Increase The Beat" aired all day Saturday and Sunday. On Memorial Day itself, the MTV2 VJ's and employees broadcast live from a barbeque in New York City, and grouped videos into categories, one for each letter of the alphabet.

MTV2's next major special programming came during Fourth Of July Weekend. For the entire four-day extended holiday weekend, MTV2 did something called "Box Set Weekend". They played an artist's "Artist Collection" (by this time there were around 100 episodes of Artist Collection), and then followed it by other MTV programming that featured the artist, such as Making The Video, Ultrasound, and/or a live performance, depending on what was available in the MTV archives. Although it was not the first time that MTV2 played programming other than music videos, "Box Set Weekend" had the highest concentration of non-video programming to date on the channel. Prior to that weekend, non-video programming and specials were few and far between, and were never longer than a half hour at a time. "Box Set Weekend" began the trend for MTV2 to play fewer music videos and more archieved MTV specials, which has annoyed and alienated many of MTV2's original viewers who had initially tuned in just to see the videos, without having to sit through documentaries and interviews, which can already be seen on MTV and VH1. On the other hand, MTV2's ratings have increased as a result of their incorporation of documentaries, interviews, and behind-the-scenes specials, along with music videos.

During the summer of 2002, MTV2 also experimented with MTV2 Dance's timeslot, airing the block twice a week: in its usual early Sunday morning slot between 1 and 4 AM, but also early Saturday morning between midnight and 3 AM. This only lasted for a couple of weeks, however, and by the fall of 2002 MTV2 Dance was cancelled entirely.

In September 2002, the European version introduced its own on-screen presentation and graphics, and started to use much more original programming, the jewel in the station's crown being "Gonzo", hosted by former MTV UK VJ and now BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe[?]. Theme weekends are now a regular feature on the channel, as are SMS orientated shows, showing viewer's text messages in an on screen chat forum.

In the fall of 2002, amid complaints that the channel was slowly following the same path that regular MTV had taken, away from music videos--especially older and rarer ones--American MTV2 debuted a new weekly show called The Definitive[?]. Its purpose was to showcase videos, many of which might not have otherwise still been played on MTV2, in themed blocks. It began airing on Sunday nights between 10 and 11, and showcased an hour of videos grouped by a different theme every week. Its first episode played all animated music videos such as "Californication" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and "Do The Evolution" by Pearl Jam. To date, the show has had nearly 40 episodes. Some of the most recent themes have been videos featuring Snoop Dogg, videos featuring motorcycles, and videos by musicians who have famous fathers, in honor of Fathers Day 2003.

Around the same time that Definitive debuted, American MTV2 also began to play "Retro Videos" weekdays between 7 and 8 AM. This evolved into a show that is currently called "Back In Play," which airs weekdays between 7 and 8 AM, and 2 and 3 PM, each of the two hours each day being a completely different block of only older videos that are not currently on MTV or MTV2's playlist.

In December of 2002, MTV2 once again tried to air every video that debuted on the channel in 2002. As happened in the past, several videos were not actually played.

Presently, MTV2 is no longer exclusively music videos. Past "MTV Icon" specials, news documentaries, and countdowns are all as likely to be shown on MTV2 as videos. However, MTV2 still continues to show innovative and up-and-coming musicians and videos, as well as the mainstream ones.

Recently, MTV2 had a "Madonna Weekend" in order to commemorate her new album, American Life. They showed old MTV specials and interviews featuring Madonna, as well as a four hour collection of Madonna videos, called "Madonna A-Z". The weekend ended on Sunday April 20 with the premiere of the "Definitive: Madonna". It was the first episode of "Definitive" to be 2 hours, and completely determined by online viewer voting at www.mtv2.com. Madonna's controversial "Erotica" video was voted into the number one spot, and MTV2 played the video, which was originally banned on regular MTV, uncensored and in its entirety, demonstrating that MTV2 hasn't entirely lost its "alternative" and more risque edge.

MTV2's current (June 2003) schedule includes some changes from 2002. Jesse Snider, son of Twisted Sister[?]'s Dee Snider, is now the host of MTV2 Rock, replacing Abby Gennet. MTV2 Rock now airs weekdays from 6 to 7 PM. MTV2 Soul is no longer on the schedule, while MTV2 Hip Hop airs at 9 AM, then from 3 to 5 PM, and again from 10 PM to 12 AM. Old School Hip Hop follows from 12 to 12:30 AM. Much of the daily schedule is occupied by other music-related specials and documentaries.

The long-running show 120 Minutes[?], which started on MTV in 1986 and was transferred to MTV2 in 2000, came to an end in May 2003 with a final show featuring current host Jim Shearer and former hosts Matt Pinfield and Dave Kendall. The show was renamed to "Subterranean," in a shorter 60-minute format. The show also moved from Sunday to Friday nights.

Also in May 2003, MTV2 resurrected an old MTV show called Headbangers' Ball[?], which features a wide array of heavy metal and rock music videos. Metallica hosted the first episode, followed by Rob Zombie for the next few weeks. Jamey Jasta from the band Hatebreed has been selected as host of the show, with MTV News' Iann Robinson providing news updates. The show is preceded on Saturdays by the MTV2 Rock Countdown with Jesse Snider and other rock-related music specials and documentaries.

In June 2003, MTV2 began an 8-hour block of hip-hop programming on Sundays called "Sucker Free Sundays." Each week, a different guest host serves up Artist Collections, countdowns, and other hip-hop music specials.

In the UK & Ireland, the MTV structure is different from that in the US and so the role that MTV2 plays is somewhat different. MTV remains the flagship channel bringing a wide variety of popular music and many different show formats (including documentaries, reality TV, charts, text shows and countdowns) however digital sattelite in the UK has allowed MTV to operate subsiduary channels with their own specialist areas. So whilst in the US MTV2 is an a varied, slightly alternative channel, in the UK MTV Base, MTV Dance and MTV2 all exist to bring not only mainstream music in the genres of urban music (hip hop, rap, R&B, garage[?]), dance (and its associated sub-genres) and alternative rock respectively. As mentioned, MTV2 UK's flagship programme is Gonzo, the only MTV2 show to have a VJ, and the channel concentrates on providing a place for upcoming artists in the areas of rock, punk, indie, metal and similar genres, as well as space for shows such as Beavis and Butthead.

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