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As many digital TV subscribers will know, there is a vast array of music channels available, however the new trend is moving towards viewer-controlled music channels, one of the earliest being The Box (channel 449, Sky Digital).
These channels simply involve viewers phoning up a specific number (usually a premium rate phone number), then entering the specific number for the music video they wish to see, using the phone keypad. These most popular music video numbers are displayed on-screen, whilst all numbers can be seen through their 'teletext' service.
Following this, the most-requested songs are then played on the channel.
Adverts, unlike most digital channels, are few and far between, which makes this station a very refreshing change from the rest, as it allows viewers to appreciate music without any disruptions. However, the main reason for the few adverts is due to the fact that you must dial a premium rate phone number to request a song, which provides the vast majority of revenue for the channel.
With regards to the range of music available, The Box plays mainly top 40 and pre-release music, however still provides a few 90s and 80s songs for viewing. This allows the cannel to play a very diverse range of music, however whenever a very popular song enters the charts (such as Shaggy's 'It Wasn't Me', or the song 'Duel of the Fates' from Star Wars in 1999), the channel will end up virtually playing the same songs back-to-back, due to satisfy the huge consumer demand.
Apart from this small criticism, The Box has sparked the growth of viewer-controlled music channels, and allows viewers to both appreciate the work that goes into the music, and the videos that are played. As a result, The Box has helped spark the revival of the music video, which, during the early 1990s began to die out, due to the few channels that actually played them.
To conclude, this channel provides a great way for viewers to listen to the music they want, through simply dialing a premium number and keying in a specific three-digit number, and in my opinion, we'll be seeing many more channels like this in the near future, as programs such as MTV's 'Videoclash' (channel 440, Sky Digital) have shown, which allow viewers to watch and listen to music when they want.
This is a fine channel for the newest chart stuff, but like you mention below, VH-1 has my nod at the moment. Both the classic channel and also their "So 80s" slot on the main branch of VH-1 throw up some unexpected lost delights, such as Edie Brickell or The Lotus Eaters. Pity, with so many music channels between 440 and 457 now, that there isn't a greater diversity in the actual videos shown. In the early hours appears to be one fo the better times, as in primetime viewing it's mostly rap/dance/teen tracks with more ads than usual. I've read 2 great ops of yours tonight. Much more, and I'll have to add you! Cheers, Jason.
nadams 12.07.2001 20:30
I'm going through a VH1 classic phase at the moment myself - absolutely brilliant music!
emu128 12.07.2001 20:26
I have this channel which I find alright but at the moment I'm going through a phase of MTV BASE, thanks~M~