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Dundee, City of Discovery. Centre of Jute (defunct), Jam (downsized) and Journalism (p***-poor). Scotland's fourth city, and home of Ciao members Ricky "superpricee" Price and Kirsty "KirstyJane" Philip. Also home to the great football teams Dundee United and Downfield Juniors, although unfortunately host to not-so-great teams Dundee FC and Elmwood Juniors.
Dundee, for those of you not in the know, lies on the north bank of the Tay Estuary in east-central Scotland, and is the city of my residence. It's your typical industrial town with its own good and bad points - nice city centre, high unemployment, affluent areas, run-down areas, that kind of thing. But Dundee has something going for it that not many other cities have, certainly not in Scotland at any rate - its own terrestrial TV Station; Channel 6.
Channel 6 started up last summer here in Dundee, with a view to being a temporary experiment. Backed by some local businessmen and Scottish Enterprise Tayside, the experiment was to see if such an enterprise could produce a financially viable commercial television station with a definite local flavour. The channel was to broadcast a variety of locally-produced work, cartoons for the kids, and at all other times have a video-jukebox service, much like that of cable/satellite channel "The Box". It was all a bit of a gamble, and to start with it looked like being a bit of a non-starter, as next to no-one in the city knew of its existence. However, word-of-mouth spread about this fantastic new TV channel, and its popularity swiftly grew to the extent that Channel 6 is now a permanent fixture in the city of Dundee.
THE SHOWS: Channel 6 is best described as a 24-hour video jukebox like The Box and the Smash Hits! channels available on cable and satellite, with occasional programmes thrown in. In the morning and at tea-time on weekdays, and on a Saturday afternoon, there is an hour of cartoons for the kids. Not only that, but they are true classic cartoons - the likes of Roobarb, The Family Ness, Trap Door, Felix the Cat, Bertha, and even seminal seventies 'toon Noah And Nelly all make regular appearances on Channel 6. Also, there are locally-made 15 and 30 minute shows dedicated to movie releases (Talking Pictures presented by some girl called Mairi from Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre DCA) and music, along with a literary show, The Book Club. There are also various small five-minute pieces shown at various times about upcoming local events, or pieces that cover recent events in the town, such as flower shows or jazz festivals (yes, we do have those things here!). While these are all well and good, Channel 6 is best known and loved in the town as a music channel, and is mostly watched by people either getting ready to go out, or as an alternative to the crap that's on the other five main channels until something decent comes on.
ADVERTS: Channel 6 is a commercial station, but actually has very few ads to be seen - they are only ever shown one at a time, and you'll be lucky to see any more than four in a given hour. There are very rare adverts for a national product (such as Shark Energy Drink), but nearly all are for local firms, such as Handy Taxis or Tay-Shirt Printers. Channel 6 makes its money mostly from the video-jukebox service, which utilises a 60p-per-minute phone line.
THE VIDEOS: The video jukebox on Channel 6 has a great selection of recent, split new, and old music videos to choose from, and the list available can be found on page 600 of the Channel 6 teletext service (more on that later). The videos are requested by phoning the 60p-per-minute phoneline on 0906 802 6666, then typing in the four-digit code for the video you want - current faves of mine are The Sugababes' "Freak Like Me" (1585) and LibertyX's fantastically sexy vid for "Just A Little" (1581). The most popular vid just now is that of local boy band No Reason's song "Crazy Is Lovin' You" (1606), which points out one of the best things about the Channel 6 jukebox - local bands, such as No Reason, The Hazey Janes and Merocaine, all have the chance to showcase their work by having their video shown on Channel 6. Obviously there is a downside to a video jukebox, which is that it can be hi-jacked by people who want to see the same crap all the time. Thankfully, nobody has been too boy-band crazy recently, but someone in this town sure likes Mariah Carey and Tupac a lot. You have been warned....
THE TECHNICAL SIDE: As I stated above, Channel 6 has a phenomenal teletext service. This not only gives you the listings of the vids for the jukebox, but also is an absolute font of local information. Bus and train times are available on their own pages, along with various pubs and all the local clubs having their own Sixtext pages to inform you of forthcoming events, admission prices etc. Sixtext is one of those things that now it's here, you can't remember how you managed without it! The signal for Channel 6 can be found on channel 49 of a standard RF analogue signal received by your set, although it does have one small problem. Channel 6 is broadcast from the Tay Bridge transmitter, which is a low-powered transmitter situated on the Tay Bridge itself, which is obviously in the lowest part of the Tay Valley. As such, this means you need a really-super-duper aerial to pick up a decent signal from Channel 6 unless you are fairly high up, or have direct line-of-sight to the bridge. This results in fairly poor reception of Channel 6 for about half of the city, which is unfortunate, as it deserves to have a bigger audience than it actually has at the moment. Luckily, we get quite a good reception in our house, and Channel 6 gets a fair bit of our attention.
Channel 6 has been a great success story for those involved, and looks like continuing to be so. In operation for less than a year, it is now firmly established as a favourite among the city's younger viewers, and is my own personal favourite out of the six terrestrial channels we receive here in Bonny Dundee. My sister has Channel 6 on in the background when she does the ironing - Kirsty and I have it on in the background when we're getting ready to go out - my folks turn the TV over to Channel 6 when inbetween soap operas. It really has pervaded into the lives of all sorts of different people throughout the town, and we'd be lost without it now, particulary the phenomenal text service. So hop on a train and come to Dundee to sample the shiniest example of Independent Television in Scotland (possibly Britain), then go home and shout at your local council/business leaders to set up a similar channel where you live. You'll love it if they do.
To fnd out more about Channel 6, go to
This has the viewing schedule for the whole of the week, along with info about Channel 6 itself, the listings for the video jukebox, and various other items of local interest.