Saturday, April 19, 2003

CHANNEL FUNNEL: Sky's long-planned music channels are up and running now - the positioning on channels 469 to 471 less of a handicap than perhaps MTV would like since there are numerous slots of Sky to cross-promote their existence on its other channels, and the music video watching experience is one that does encourage channel hopping anyway, much more so than, say, with news channels where you'll have your taste and will usually be less inclined to move from it.
So, what do we get? The Amp, which seems to have a lot of shared dealings with X-FM (you wonder if Capital is eyeing a long-term deal with Murdoch when the radio ownership rules relax?) and has a playlist drawn mainly from the softer end of Kerrang and the indier end of MTV2 and Q - Placebo (and didn't they hit the zeitgeist hard with the nightvision video for the Bitter End, the clever bunnies), Ian Brown, Vines, Strokes and so on. Scuzz, which hits just perfectly that Kerrang Babies market for carefully arranged grime pretending to be real dirt - Cave In, In Me, The Donnas, Harry. for boys, with nothing really filthy, but a lot of looking at knives and wondering about when virginity will be in the past. Flaunt, on the other hand, is pointed at gurlies, mainly, but it's crammed a bit heavy with all the Top 40, R&B, boyband and Made-Up Popstars material to choose from. Busted, Big Brovvas, Mis-Teeq, Kym Marsh. Plus, Flaunt is given a whole load of extras like agony aunts and make-up tips, which seems puzzling; Sky Sports doesn't think it needs to patronise its male-bullethead audience by mixing the soccer with "how to barely look after your devil dog" and "where to buy kebabs", and Sky News is able to find an audience without mixing in dreadful features for its middle-class, middle-brow, right leaning targets ("how to ensure your semi in the suburbs rises in value", "beware of foreign people - they're up to things" ... oh, hang on a minute); but why can't the music channel just do music? Girls are quite capable of listening to music for fifteen minutes without the need to hear the latest hemline height advice; if they do need that, then other services are available. The inclusion of sub-J-17 lifestyle tat seems more likely to chase away floating boy viewers than attract extra she hormonal types.
There's extra stuff in the interactive sections on each station - nothing too clever yet, and much of it seems more designed to fleece the viewer (do a quiz to find out your style double; pay fifty pee and find out who you match - not really a very inspired use of the technology, and I knew that i was going to be Kylie without paying the money. But you can request videos through the digibox rather than the phone, so in that sense the service has got the edge over EMAP's music offerings.
The choice hasn't been extended far, but they're not bad as a start.

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