MTV discovers the flip side to all that sex

The music video channel launches a series of documentaries on Aids, drugs and crime

MTV, entertainment of choice for a generation of couch potatoes, is to shift its emphasis from eye-popping, controversial videos to social campaigning.

As it celebrates 25 years of non-stop music videos, the channel will combine a headline-grabbing stunt to find the sleaziest and most controversial video in pop history, with a virtuous series of documentaries investigating Aids, sex, drugs and crime. It will also feature two special programmes: Clinton Uncut, filmed at the 2002 International Aids Conference in Barcelona, and Meeting Mandela - where young people tell their stories to the former South African president.

The broadcaster, which launched at 00.01am on 1 August 1981 with the words "ladies and gentlemen: rock and roll", is keenly aware that it shares its 25th anniversary year with that of a far more poignant date: the first recorded case of Aids. But most of its 500 million viewers world-wide will tune in to discover which video they have voted on to the list of "Top 100 Videos That Broke the Rules". Front-runners include Duran Duran's "Girls on Film" with its nudity; Madonna's "Like a Prayer", where a Jesus figure comes to life and kisses her; and "Rock DJ" by Robbie Williams (below) where he strips off clothes and skin.

Chris Cowey, producer of TV music shows The Tube and Top of the Pops, said that MTV was a "stroke of genius", exploiting the eagerness of music companies to make expensive pop videos at no cost to MTV itself. But, 25 years later, it should be called "Lifestyle TV", as it is superseded by websites such as MySpace and YouTube, which allow users to "programme" their own videos and playlists. That means teenagers no longer have to rely on US-derived music shows. Mr Cowey added: "We've got the chance to be in command of our culture again."

Yet, like the mobile giant Motorola and Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, with their Aids projects, MTV insists it takes its association with the pandemic to heart, and it won public service broadcasting awards in the US last month.

"The MTV audience has never known a day without HIV," said a spokesman. "Young people are critical to ending the pandemic. MTV is proud of our history in educating [them] on HIV/Aids."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there