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MySpace, MTV to host presidential chat

NEW YORK (Reuters) - News Corp’s Internet social network, MySpace, and Viacom Inc’s MTV will unveil a plan on Thursday to host a series of discussions between U.S. presidential candidates and Internet viewers simultaneously.

Republican presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks to voters during a campaign stop in Derry, New Hampshire, August 16, 2007. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The event marks the first wide-scale collaboration between the two companies, controlled by rival media moguls News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch and Viacom’s Sumner Redstone.

The event, held in college campuses across the United States and streamed live on both sites bills itself as the first “real-time” dialogue between America’s youths and 11 candidates from Senator Hilary Clinton to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and differs from similar recent events.

Audience members at the campuses will ask questions directly. Online viewers will be able to submit questions by sending e-mails or instant messages from their computers, or by text messages from cell phones.

Online viewer reactions will be polled on both Web sites.

The series comes on the heels of a recent Democratic party presidential debate held by Google Inc’s YouTube and Time Warner Inc’s CNN that featured prerecorded questions from YouTube users at home and was moderated by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.

“Neither of us wanted to see yet another event with a dozen candidates giving consultant-crafted answers,” MySpaceTV general manager Jeff Berman said in a telephone interview. The event aims to promote “unfiltered direct conversations.”

Questions from the audience sent through instant messaging software will be selected by moderators at the event and be presented to the candidate, executives said.

The event will also be broadcast on MTV and mtvU, a 24-hour college channel in more than 750 U.S. colleges.

It is part of MTV’s “Choose or Lose” campaign, launched in 1992, to engage youth voters to participate in the political process.

“There (will be) a true digital representation of the community,” Ian Rowe, MTV vice president of strategic partnership, said in a telephone interview. “That has never happened before.”

Reporting by Kenneth Li

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