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Nets Target South Asians

Four new services targeting South Asian audiences will be offered to cable operators and satellite distributors in early 2005.

MTV Networks will launch three ethnic-targeted entertainment channels in the first quarter of 2005, led by MTV Desi, aimed at Indian-American subscribers and expected to bow next month.

Also reaching out to viewers with roots on the Indian subcontinent is American Desi, a 24-hour network launching on EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network.

MTV services pegged to Chinese- and Korean-Americans round out the list of new networks targeting 12.5 million Asian-Americans, the nation’s fastest-growing broad ethnic base, according to MTV World general manager and senior vice president Nusrat Durrani.

Much of the content will come from MTV’s international channels. “We’ll also do local event coverage and news segments and assemble something that is relevant to bi-cultural identity of the target audience in the U.S,” Durrani said.

Sources close to MTV said the company is open to various carriage options, including digital-basic, placement on ethnic tiers or as mini-pay services.

Durrani also said MTV could develop even more ethnic-based networks in the near future.

MTV Desi will hit the market in January. “We think the demand is greatest for this channel,” Durrani said.

New Jersey-based American Desi is an independently owned network featuring English-language shows and Indian-themed morning newscasts, daily animated children’s fare, American Pro Cricket events, nightly interview programs, a late-night comedy block and Bollywood movies, chairman and CEO Vimal Verma said.

American Desi premieres on Dish next month, and Verma hopes to launch as a mini-pay service on cable in the near future.