LIKE one of its graphically explosive logos, the MTV Asia channel on STAR TV seemed destined to pounce on an unsuspecting region, consume its cultural sensitivities and churn out homogenised Western rock 'n' roll. But Asia is biting back. MTV's promotional cry in the United States was ''I want my MTV''. Well, Asia wants its MTV, too, and honed to its tastes. On celebrating its second anniversary, the station is getting down to making MTV Asia more Asian. ''In the beginning, people were worried that MTV was just a global thing, churning out Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi 24 hours a day,'' said Mr Ed Bean, MTV Asia's executive producer. But with the launch of MTV's Mandarin and bilingual programmes it is clear language will play a major role in keeping Asians tuned to the 24-hour music channel. Taking advantage of bilingual presenters Angela Chow, David Wu and Nonie Tao, MTV Asia is airing Mandarin/English shows. Four programmes are planned for the new ''Mandari n-friendly'' schedule. Gone Taiwan, hosted by Taiwanese radio DJ Sally Yeh, will focus on a Taiwanese singer every show. It is in Mandarin with English subtitles. The singers talk about their lives and careers, and choose their 10 favourite videos. The bilingual Awake on the Wild Side with Chow is three hours of pop songs, from Taiwan and the international arena. The Mandarin-speaking Tao takes over with Dial MTV where viewers can call in and request their favourite video. The ball is then passed to Wu, who plays the latest videos from Taiwan and abroad. All programmes are scheduled for early morning Hongkong/Taiwan viewing, making it ''India-friendly''. The time difference ensures India is asleep. The station may become trilingual when the Cantonese language ban is lifted from satellite television in October 1993, according to Mr Don Atyeo, MTV Asia general manager. Although Cantonese-speaking presenters and home-grown videos would help boost the audience in Hongkong and southern China, Mr Atyeo believes they will not go any further linguistically. ''We will never turn into a Tower of Babel,'' he said. With the debuts of MTV Europe, Brazil, Australia, Asia and Japan, MTV reaches about 213 million households in 72 countries, across six continents. There are also plans for an MTV Latin America later this year. Mr Bean said customising the stations meant tailoring everything from the promotional ads to the presenter, and the style of editing. ''The US tends to be a lot faster and pacier. The audience expects to see 'X' number of images per seconds. Kids in America have gotten to a stage where, if they don't have this, they think it's boring. ''We keep the VJ links very short. In Europe, the news is longer, the featured interviews are longer. All channels have a distinctive personality, but primarily the music is different,'' he said. Although MTV may like to give the impression it goes into each region with a pre-determined plan, the reality is much more hit and miss. New York-based international programming director Ms Janet Scardino said flexibility was the key. ''Now we have introduced MTV, we want to develop it. We want to listen to [our viewers'] and capture their loyalty. That is our goal for 1993. ''The MTV approach is to customise, rather than the CNN approach which is a hub that sends out one signal. This is more difficult, more rewarding and more popular.'' While the US and European versions were becoming more niche-oriented to maintain positions in competitive markets, MTV Asia was the opposite, Mr Atyeo said. In order to cope with the cultural diversity of the immense STAR TV footprint, a wide range of music is played. Even high-ranking international MTV staff are switching to the Asian feed. ''A lot of people like the mix of music better here. Kids here want more diversity. They are not just interested in Seattle grunge,'' Mr Bean said. More importantly, advertisers are paying attention. MTV has sealed an advertising contract with the Taiwanese division of the Polygram record company for almost $3.9 million. ''We've created a whole new record and video industry,'' Mr Atyeo said. The introduction of new music has proved incredibly successful for the station. While radio stations would not give airplay to mainland rock group Tang Dynasty, MTV began playing the band in high rotation, and viewers clamoured for its records. It achieved an unprecedented 500,000 sales in China and is the highest selling artist at Tower Records in Taiwan. Khaled, an Algerian artist, had similar success in India where his album went platinum. Mr Atyeo is convinced the Indian market could embrace Mandarin music. ''It is not that the Indians don't like Chinese music, it is just that there is no context. If we tell them the biggest seller is Leon Lai and give some background, then they say it is fine and will give it a listen. ''There is no resistance to regional music. It gets the most kudos, as opposed to international music,'' Mr Atyeo said. Inroads are being made by singers like Harlem Yu. The Taiwanese pop star sings in English and has become a sensation in India. The biggest boon to MTV has been young viewers, who are open to a wider variety of regional music. ''There is a real sense of Asian identity among the younger people. The Taiwanese have as much in common with Indians, more so than an American or European kid. That will get stronger. ''The best thing we're doing is reflecting an Asian sensibility, rather than playing the latest video from Cleveland, Ohio. ''We don't want to turn them all into Red Hot Chili Pepper fans. That is not the point of MTV. ''We try to reflect what is happening in the footprint. Sure, we give them an introduction to new music, but that is new domestic music as well. ''Obviously, there are conflicts. People who are not young are creatures of habit. We have to have enough of a mix to make it palatable,'' Mr Atyeo said. Although Mandarin programming was initially aimed at Taiwan, MTV has one eye on the rest of the Chinese-speaking footprint. MTV Asia has an audience in three million households in 30 countries with large Chinese speaking populations. There are another estimated five million households in China tuning in as well. ''China is enormous. It is going to explode. All the record companies recognise that. Hongkong and Taiwan are very oriented to China. ''We are not just focusing on Taiwan today, but on all this side of the world for tomorrow,'' Mr Atyeo said.