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NEW YORK – MTV, VH1 and CMT are going back to their roots by showing videos as part of a “Music Independence Day” on the Fourth of July.

Van Toffler, who runs the networks for Viacom, said the idea is to give a boost to musicians at a time of trouble for the industry and provide soundtracks for the parties and gatherings people are having at home. The networks said Wednesday they will let little-known artists compete for airtime.

The networks got their start primarily airing music videos but switched to other, more lucrative programming.

Music programming is limited now – a wee hours dance party on MTV, the “Jump Start” morning show on VH1, a weekend Hot 20 on the country-oriented CMT. Much of their music content now is concentrated online or on digital channels like VH1 Classic.