Dateline: March 6, 2005

Music Channel Launched To Showcase Scots Bands

Source: Sunday Times - Scotland,,2090-1513244,00.html

By Karin Goodwin

An MTV-style music channel is to be launched in Scotland to capitalise on the country’s flourishing music scene.

The 24-hour alternative rock channel ­ Scotland’s first homegrown satellite station ­ will devote about a third of its output to Scots bands such as Franz Ferdinand, Belle and Sebastian and Snow Patrol.

THAT-TV ­ which stands for The Home of Alternative Television ­ is the brainchild of Colin Usher, the Edinburgh-based director and music promoter, and is backed by Chris Squire, bassist with the prog rock band Yes.

Usher said he was convinced there would be demand for a channel showcasing the best of Scottish “indie” music, which would compete with established alternative music stations such as MTV2 and VH2.

“The unimaginative play list of MTV and other music channels has been a longstanding gripe. They only play the most obvious, commercial music,” said Usher. “But there is so much exciting music, some of it quite underground, that could be highlighted. There is a need for a more eclectic entertainment channel that caters to everyone from a 15-year-old Goth in Glenrothes to a vintage rock fan in Brighton. We want to open up the market and give independent bands the chance to get more exposure.”

As well as videos and features about lesser-known bands, the Edinburgh-based station ­ due to be launched on Sky in August ­ will broadcast exclusive performances by established acts. Usher hopes to include acoustic sets from well-known musicians, shot in their Glasgow or Edinburgh flats, and city tours by new bands ­ such as a guide to Liverpool by the Zutons and the Killers’ “LA view”. The channel will also feature independent bands from around the UK and Europe was well as short films by up-and-coming directors.

The profile of the Scottish music scene has soared in the last year with the success of Franz Ferdinand, who have sold more than 2m albums, won a clutch of awards, and broken the American market. In the wake of the band’s success, London talent scouts were dispatched to Scotland to find the next hit act, leading to breaks for bands including Sons and Daughters, My Latest Novel and Dogs Die in Hot Cars.

Scotland has also earned a strong international reputation through pop bands such as Primal Scream, Simple Minds, the Proclaimers and Texas.

THAT-TV is backed by Umbrello Entertainment, a new company formed by Squire and Steve Nardelli, the singer from the Yes bassist’s former band, Syn. “When we saw Colin’s demo we were very impressed. The station stands a good chance of being really popular,” said Squire. "I’ve lived in California for the last 20 years and been exposed to the multiple channels there.”

“What we’re looking at is an indie alternative to MTV,” added Nardelli. “Colin has described it as ‘noise for thinkers’ and that’s exactly what we’re aiming for. It is a fact that more CDs and records are bought by people over 35 than by the under-35s but television isn’t catering for that market at all. A whole section of society is being overlooked.

“We liked the idea of being based in Edinburgh because Scotland has always had such a strong independent scene. That’s not just in terms of music ­ there’s a whole indie arts scene which is really flourishing.”

The new music channel has been widely welcomed by musicians and senior industry figures in Scotland. “A satellite channel such as this is a great thing,” said Colin MacIntyre, of the Mull Historical Society. “Some stations provide a new artists’ slot on one of their programmes, but a station that can actually give more attention and coverage to new artists has to be welcomed.

“Scottish people really like to find new talent and be a part in that development. There’s always a place for new outlets for music and the arts such as this in Scotland.”

Rab Andrew, manager of Texas and Primal Scream, said he was delighted that the channel would be showcasing Scottish talent. “Scottish people are very loyal to Scottish acts and that is being recognised,” he said. ­ "Radio stations like Clyde and Beat 106 are now giving local music more airplay. It seems like a good time to launch this station."

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