Watch Out, MTV--Here Comes...Fuse?
By Christine Y. Chen

(FORTUNE Magazine) – MTV helped place Berkeley on the rock map of the 1990s by airing videos by the Counting Crows and Green Day. Now it's Fuse TV that wants to raid the California college town. At the end of February executives from the fledgling network traveled to the campus to make a lucrative offer to William "She Bangs" Hung, the 22-year-old engineering student who shot to fame by cheerfully butchering a Ricky Martin tune on American Idol. Fuse TV pitched Hung a $25,000 recording contract and offered to make a video featuring Hung's, uh, unique brand of dancing.

While you might recognize William Hung's name, you're probably asking "Fuse TV who?" Formerly known as MuchMusic, Fuse TV is a part of Rainbow Media, a Cablevision programming subsidiary that also runs networks like WE: Women's Entertainment and the Independent Film Channel. The channel relaunched last May under its new name and began a cheeky marketing campaign featuring celebrities like Tammy Faye Bakker Messner and the psychic (formerly known as Miss) Cleo. Positioning itself as the anti-MTV, Fuse TV eschews shows like MTV's Newlyweds in favor of music shows like IMX, whose viewers trade shares in artists.

So far Fuse seems to be getting some traction--at least in its target 12-to 34-year-old demographic, in which, according to Nielsen Media Research, it has the highest concentration of viewers. Though some cable companies don't carry Fuse, it reaches a respectable 34 million cable and satellite subscribers (MTV reaches 86 million). And there are signs that MTV is worried enough about the upstart to play hardball: It recently started enforcing exclusivity contracts barring artists from appearing on other networks. --Christine Y. Chen