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Viacom sends last traces of VIVA to the graveyard


The music channel was originally set up as a competitor to MTV in the 1990s, before being taken over and run down by MTV's owner Viacom.

The original VIVA channel closed at 1300 GMT / 1400 CET on Monday 31st December 2018. After launching in Germany in 1993, the channel brand was extended across a number of Central and Eastern European countries. In 2009, a version of VIVA launched in the UK and Ireland on free-to-air services, before being axed earlier this year.

Like the UK version of the channel, the Spice Girls song Viva Forever concluded the last scheduled programme block on the channel - also entitled Viva Forever. 

But VIVA Germany viewers got an extra bonus: in the final minutes before the channel finally handed over its frequencies to Comedy Central Germany, music artists and former presenters said farewell to the channel, with the first music video to feature on the channel in 1993, Zu geil für diese Welt by Die Fantastischen Vier fading to a slide reading VIVA - Rest in Peace - 1993-2018.

VIVA was launched to deliver a local rival service to MTV, which back in 1993, was still broadcasting a single English-language service across the whole of Europe. MTV's owner Viacom gained shares in the channel in 2004. By 2005, the channel was under the full control of Viacom, who gradually dismantled the channel, eventually reducing it to part-time status. The return of MTV Germany to free-to-air TV a year ago sealed the fate of VIVA, as Viacom didn't need two free-to-air music channels going head-to-head. Officially, Viacom managers said they wanted to concentrate on their three main channel brands - Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon.

VIVA's fate matched that of former Dutch channel TMF (The Music Factory), a version of which also made its way to the UK. It too started as a local rival to MTV, got taken over by Viacom and shut down.

Since the heyday of music television, viewing figures have fallen, as young viewers move to streaming services and social media for their diet of music and entertainment. A number of music channels in the UK have closed or have been taken over in 2018 in response to changes in the market.