MTV (Music Television) is a cable television network based in New York City and launched on August 1, 1981. The original purpose of the channel was to play music videos guided by on-air hosts known as VJs. Today, MTV still plays a limited selection of music videos, but the channel primarily broadcasts a variety of popular culture and reality television shows targeted at young adults and older adolescents.
Since its premiere, MTV has had a profound impact on the music industry and popular culture. Slogans such as “I want my MTV” became embedded in public thought, the concept of the VJ was popularized, the idea of a dedicated video-based outlet for music was introduced, and both artists and fans found a central location for music events, news, and promotion. MTV has also been referenced countless times in popular culture by musicians, other TV channels and shows, films and books.
MTV has spawned numerous sister channels in the U.S. and affiliated channels internationally. MTV’s moral influence on young people, including issues related to censorship and social activism, has been a subject of debate for years. MTV’s choice to focus on non-music programming has also been contested relentlessly since the 1990s, demonstrating the channel’s impact on popular culture.