MTV Networks

MTV Networks is launching a TV channel that features user-generated video clips and messages, becoming the latest media giant to embrace the social networking craze and the first to adapt it to traditional broadcasting.

Consumers will be able to choose which music videos are played on the channel, upload their own clips, send on-screen messages using mobile phones and communicate with each other with self-created avatars -- graphical representations of participants -- resembling Japanese animation.

The new site is to be called Flux and will be available from Aug. 1. The accompanying TV channel, also being launched by MTV's UK & Ireland arm, will start broadcasting on Sept. 6, MTV Networks said on Monday.

MTV, owned by New York-based media conglomerate Viacom Inc., hopes to capitalise on the global popularity of its 25-year-old brand that continues to resonate with teenagers.

"MTV is challenging the status quo in TV programming and transferring control directly to its audience," said Angel Gambino, vice president of commercial strategy and digital media for MTV Networks UK & Ireland.

Both the Flux TV channel and the Web site will carry advertising, but there will be no charge for using the Web site or uploading videos, a spokesman said.

R. Murdoch's News Corp. embraced social networking by acquiring MySpace, the most popular such Web site, while start-ups such as YouTube and Bebo have quickly become consumer favourites, too.

MTV's model draws on similar ideas it has tested in Japan, the Netherlands and Italy. The network already has nine music channels in the UK and Ireland, as well as comedy channel Paramount and kids channel Nickelodeon.