Debut of Free Video Channel May Steal Time From Radio, MTV

Boston video aficionados no longer" have to pay to watch the latest in music, videos with the debut of a new non-cable video station.

WVJV-TV (Channel 66), which first aired on February 12, is the third public video station in the country. But, according to its owners, it may as well be the first because it is the only one which has had substantial financial backing.

"We feel it's the next step from AM radio to FM radio to TV," said Arnie Ginsburg, general manager and co-owner of the new station. Added Ginsburg, who has been in the broadcasting business for the past 40 years, this station has received the best initial response of any he has been connected with.

MTV Copy?

Although viewers undoubtedly associate music videos with cable's MTV, Ginsburg said Channel 66 is not intended to compete with MTV.

Officials at MTV agreed with this, saying that as WVJV-TV aims for local commercials and MTV for national, the companies do not stand to compete with one another. "We're in a different arena," said Don Bridges, MTV's vice-president of corporate communication for MTV.

"The ingredients that were missing in MTV are here," said Ginsburg, citing WVJV broadcasting of weather, news, sports and contests in addition to receipting phone requests for specific videos.

"These are all the things that make a local station 'Boston'," he added, The former disc jockey--known on the air as "Woo-Woo"--predicted that his station will compete more for the attention of radio listeners, in particular, popular stations WBCN and WXKS, than the national video channel.

Medium Wars

But radio representatives said they do not fear threatened by the new station. Bob Kranes, WBCN's director, said that MTV did not have any impact on his station and that he does not expect Channel 66 will either.

"There will always be a difference between radio and video," he said. "The radio is and will always be in the theater of the mind. What people want when they listen to the radio is the medium in general. You can't watch a music video when you're in your car or at the beach."

But; according to Ginsburg, the television can do amazing things for music, such as giving new life to a tired tune.

Citing David Lee Roth's rendition of the 1960's Beach Boys' California Girls," Ginsburg said. "They took an oldie song and brought it into the 80s with a lot of fun and a lot of appeal."

There are limitations, however, on what videos the local channel can show and some watchers have noticed the difference. "The videos that I've seen have seemed kind of outdated, like is a step behind MTV, "said John F. Leyda, '87.

Ginsburg said MTV has exclusive rights to some songs, but would nots specify which ones.