For more than a year, two veteran disc jockeys here have been televising a hybrid of MTV and Top 40 radio format that could be the new competitor to both the cable music video giant and local radio stations.
WVJV-TV, better known as V-66, has been broadcasting a 24-hour blend of music videos, local news, weather and music features--a formula being followed by nearly a dozen other stations around the nation.
"We took a lot of the ingredients of an FM station and incorporated them into our format," said Arnie Ginsburg, one of the founders and owners of V-66 and a Boston radio fixture since the 1950s.
"We felt that video music on a local level, with local input, with VJs (video disc jockeys) talking about Boston, doing the weather, news, playing local groups--that we'd be the equivalent of a radio station on television."
Many of the local all-music or mostly video stations have a low-power license that limits their range. Many operate on shoestring budgets. But V-66, a full-power, over-the-air station that is also hooked up to many of the region's cable networks, is backed by about $22 million in financing, including $10.5 million raised through the sale of limited partnerships.
Ginsburg said that V-66 has several advantages over MTV, which competes with V-66 on the Boston-area and Providence, R.I., cable systems.
"We can be local, we can respond to local taste, we can play local groups, we can give information the Boston market cares about," he said. In addition, V-66 is free to anyone with a television set.
MTV downplays upstart competitors like V-66.
"We're not worried," said MTV spokesman Barry Kluger. "They're local stations. They can fill a local need that MTV cannot. MTV is programmed as a national service. There are two different needs."
Kluger said MTV has agreements with record companies to provide it with new videos exclusively for a certain period before they are released to other stations. This provides viewers in the 27 million households that get MTV with a freshness he said is lacking on the local video stations.
One local video station, TV5 in Houston, has sued MTV over its exclusivity agreements on videos.