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CME Inks Licensing Deal for MTV Romania

Central European Media has concluded a licensing deal with MTV Networks International that will give CME operational control of MTV Romania. Terms of the deal for the channel, which was launched in 2002 and now reaches about 10 million homes in the market, were not released.

CME is Central and Eastern Europe’s largest broadcasting group. With the addition of MTV Romania, CME now has a bouquet of five channels, including the popular PRO TV broadcasting station that reaches about 21.6 million viewers in Romania.

The move reflects MTVNI’s ongoing push to expand its presence in emerging markets and the company’s strategy of licensing its brand to local partners in some emerging markets.

Over the last 15 months, MTVNI has launched six new services in Central and Eastern Europe, including MTV Hungary and Comedy Central in Poland, managing director and senior VP of MTVNI emerging markets Bhavneet Singh said in an interview.

The company has fully owned channels in such markets as Poland and Hungary but it has used licensing models in a number of other territories. In those markets it licenses the channel brands to a local company, which runs the channel and sells advertising. MTVNI provides help with branding and supplies programming.

Besides Romania, MTVNI now has licensing deals for its channel brands in such Eastern European markets as Russia, the Baltic’s and the Ukraine. Generally, MTVNI has used a licensing model in markets with difficult regulatory and media landscapes that make it hard for Western companies to do business on their own.

In June of 2007, MTVNI and its joint venture partners sold MTV Russia and VH1 Russia networks to Prof-Media, which now operates the channels under a licensing agreement.

“There are times when a joint venture makes sense and times when a licensee model makes sense and there are times when you want to fully own the business,” Singh said.

Until recently, much of the company’s attention has been on launching music channels, but Singh said MTVNI is now working to expand the reach of Nickelodeon and Comedy Central in the rapidly growing Central and Eastern European territories.