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VTV Nearing Carriage Deals

VTV: Varsity Television, a TV and Web service targeting the elusive teen market, is about to graduate to a few more MSO dials.

President and cofounder Joe Shults said the service expects to close distribution deals with "four of the top seven" MSOs by the end of the first quarter. He would not identify the operators, but he did say VTV was "nearing final terms on decade-long deals."

Shults -- whose resume includes stints at MTV Networks, E! Entertainment Television, Polygram Video and BMG Entertainment -- said VTV’s rate card called for a "couple of free years" before it charges "nominal" license fees.

Network officials expect VTV to be in a minimum of 10 million homes before year’s end.

Currently, the network -- which serves up an array of entertainment, sports and news fare aimed at 13- to 18-year-olds, with about 20% of content produced by teens themselves -- reaches some 3 million TV homes via contracts with members of the National Cable Television Cooperative, as well as video-on-demand pacts with Comcast Corp. and Blue Ridge Communications.

VTV has established relationships with high schools around the country, tying in with the schools’ media-production classes. Content produced by students then makes its way to the network’s Web site (www.myvtv.com), with the best then processed for its national TV feed.