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 MTV hits high note with `Karaoke'.

TAIWAN- TAIPEI It's almost Stone Age, but it's true. One of the most successful shows MTV has in Taiwan relies on one of the oldest musical tricks in the book: karaoke. The show "Karaoke Box" allows MTV viewers a chance to sing their favorite pop songs on TV.

A half-hour show filled with patchy singers could be ratings death. But the perky graphics and participation of stars on "Karaoke Box" has quickly made it one of MTV's highest-rated Taiwanese shows -- and one that could be adapted for other markets.

The unknowns sing and then their pre-recorded performances are heavily snipped into segments of a mere few seconds. Only one hopeful each week gets to croon a full-length track -- and that performance is subjected to the scrutiny of the star who made it popular.

Potential humiliation, however, hasn't stopped thousands from singing with off-key renditions of their favorite songs.

"Karaoke Box," like many of the shows MTV is releasing in Taiwan, was specifically designed for the Taiwanese market.

Sleeper channel

MTV took note of Taiwan's burgeoning cable penetration and launched there almost five years ago. The network wasn't an instant hit, but MTV Asia president Frank Brown prefers to liken its shaky start to a stealth attack.

"We were pretty niche by choice, because to some extent the objective of MTV is to create a mass cult," Brown says. "You have to be edgy and pioneering."

Those days seem to be over; MTV has since made solid inroads into the mainstream. It now reaches 99% of Taiwan's 5 million cable households.

ACNielsen surveys have shown MTV to be the leading music channel for almost two years. MTV Taiwan already produces 11 of its own shows, but Brown hopes to keep the momentum going by releasing more new programming in March.

MTV hopes its success in Taiwan will also spill over into the Chinese market, which also receives Taiwan's Mandarin-language feed.

Right now, however, Taiwan remains the focus. Karaoke might be big in mainland China, but for the moment, Taiwan's cable penetration and potential advertising dollars are much more in tune with MTV's aims.


Hun Sen calls for ban on 'sexy' clothes on Cambodian TV.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday called for a ban on depiction of women in ''sexy'' clothes in TV and karaoke videos, calling them harmful to Cambodian culture, said Mu Sokhour, minister of women's affairs.

Mu Sokhour said Hun Sen's call was correct and timely to repair the damage to Cambodian culture caused by foreign cultures.

The prime minister's request was made at a gathering of some 100 representatives of the country's seven TV stations and dozens of video and karaoke outfits.

It was the first time for Hun Sen to directly appeal for a ban to managers and directors of TV stations and related businesses, though he has raised the issue in public several times.

''The prime minister said he has noticed that some actresses wear short and tight skirts, while others wear few clothes,'' said Sak Sithon, director of Independence Video Production.

Mu Sokhour voiced concern that if Cambodian culture is not properly preserved, younger generations, especially teenagers, will suffer.

 Karaoke Amateurs Carry Latest Levi's TV Advertising Tune

SAN FRANCISCO--The latest broadcast creative for Lewi's "Make Them Your Own" campaign, via TBWA/Chiat/Day, launched last week for a run that continues through next summer with a Karaoke theme and features three songs, "Downtown," "Karma Chameleon" and "Kung Fu Fighting," sung by "real" young people, not actors, without scripts or rehearsals. A total of 36 spots, 12 of each song, will rotate throughout the campaign. The 30-second spots, which target consumers of all ages, carry the "Make Them Your Own" tagline and call out either or a specific product focus. Media includes MTV, Fox, ESPN, others. Chuck McBride is executive creative director.


 The irock! MP3 Player Line From First International Digital, Inc.

SCHAUMBURG, Ill.-First International Digital, Inc., a Motorola spin-off, known for their innovative irock! line of MP3 players, has signed a distribution agreement with Ingram Micro Inc. (NYSE: IM), the largest global wholesale provider of technology products and supply chain management services, for the distribution of their irock! 600 series of MP3 Players. The product line will initially be distributed through Ingram Micro U.S.

An industry first, the fully featured irock! MP3 players feature a patent pending proprietary MP3i (MP3 Interactive) technology, which enables these fun handhelds to become a portable karaoke studio. The karaoke function allows the user to view the song's lyrics in synchronization with the music. Additionally, the user can record his or her own voice along with the original recording - in effect, "cutting their own tracks."

In addition to the unique karaoke feature, the irock! 600 series comes standard with 64 MB of MMC memory, built-in voice recorder, dual headphone jacks, a belt clip that doubles as a desk stand, two pre-loaded karaoke songs, and 60 pre-selected MP3 songs (on CD). FID offers 2 models in the irock! 600 series, the irock! 620, suggested at $229.99, and the irock! 680, which also comes equipped with a built-in FM tuner, suggested at $279.99.

"The irock! MP3 players are a fun, innovative product offering for our customers," said Jim Harr, vice president product management, general manager peripherals, Ingram Micro U.S. "irock!'s unique karaoke feature differentiates it from similar product offerings in the competitive digital audio player category."

Randy Cavaiani, First International Digital's vice president of marketing and sales added: "This agreement opens up many new sales opportunities for FID. Our products will be available to thousands of retailers that utilize the vast network and unparalleled support system of Ingram Micro."

The irock! 600 series includes two models, the irock! 620 and the irock! 680:

* irock! 620- $229.99 (msrp) comes standard with 64 MB of MMC card memory, dual headphone jacks, built-in voice recorder, belt clip that doubles as a desk stand, two pre-loaded karaoke songs, and 60 pre-selected MP3 songs (on CD)

* irock! 680- $279.99 (msrp) includes everything the irock! 620 has, plus an FM Tuner with five presets.

More information about the irock! line can be found at:



The Singing Machine Co. To Begin Trading on the 
American Stock Exchange On March 8, 2001.  

COCONUT CREEK, Fla.-The Singing Machine Co. (OTC:SING), a leading manufacturer and distributor of electronic karaoke equipment and related audio software, today announced that its common stock will begin trading on the American Stock Exchange tomorrow, March 8, 2001, under the symbol SMD.

"Singing Machine's listing on the American Stock Exchange is a major milestone for our company and an important element in our strategy to build value for our shareholders. We expect the AMEX listing it to enhance Singing Machine's visibility in the financial community and to improve the market for our stock," said Chief Operating Officer John Klecha.


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