The European Elections: MTV tunes in to young voters

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Sadly, Jacques Delors does not play the saxophone. But following in the footsteps of President Bill Clinton, he is making an appearance on MTV this weekend.

The music television channel is launching a series of programmes to promote the European elections, aimed at getting its core audience of 18 to 34-year-olds to vote next week. Mikhail Gorbachev, the Norwegian Prime Minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland and the Turkish Prime Minister, Tansu Ciller, will appear. A talk show will assemble representatives of the main European parties.

There is unlikely to be so much as a toot or parp from any of them and the prospects of a jam session are remote. (Mr Clinton played the sax on his MTV appearance in 1992.) Mr Delors favours listening to scratchy jazz 78s of an evening, apparently shunning hard-core techno and death metal. Mr Gorbachev, with his penchant for the Beatles, is probably closer to the mark.

MTV Europe reaches 60 million households in 33 countries and claims to be the world's most watched television channel. American MTV has developed an active current affairs and news programme, and ran campaign coverage and interviews during the US presidential election in 1992.

But Brent Hansen, director of programming and production, says there are big differences between a national campaign and a European one. 'The European elections may not appear particularly sexy, but it's very important that people be informed,' he says.

The 'choose or lose' slogan adopted in the US has been replaced in Europe by 'tell them what you think'. Given that 20 per cent of Europe's 60 million 15 to 25- year-olds are unemployed, what they think is probably uncomplimentary. 'The basic message is that people have to be made aware about these elections, because they will make a difference,' says Mr Hansen.

The initiative fits in with MTV's concern for matters like unemployment and racism. 'It's part of what we do, and an important part,' says Mr Hansen.

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