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With music TV it's all in the timing

Date: 08/06/1996
Words: 422
          Publication: Sun Herald
Section: NEWS
Page: 34
IT'S radio veteran Ian Rogerson versus Molly Meldrum with Kate Ceberano's brother, Phil, taking on two former soap stars. Australia's pay TV rivals have fought over films, then over football, now they have moved to the music industry.

As hundreds of musicians downed free beer at the re-launch of Foxtel/Galaxy's music channel Red at Pyrmont's Wharf 8 last Thursday, few knew that trouble was brewing across the harbour at Optus Vision's production headquarters in North Ryde.

Optus Vision is planning a party of its own on Friday to launch its music channel, ARC.

Was Red, which has been on air for almost 14 months, trying to steal ARC's thunder by re-launching a week before its rival's premiere?

"No. Red was never officially launched when it started so this is the official launch," said head of programming Dean Dezius . "This is basically a big PR exercise."

ARC managing director Kim Vecera is unconvinced. "The timing of their re-launch is very interesting to say the least. It would seem they're more worried about us than we are about them."

ARC and Red are both 24-hour music channels with video clips, live concert specials and interviews. The major difference is in the presentation.

The Red line-up includes two former Paradise Beach stars, Nathan Harvey and Megan Connolly, and unknowns Jabba, Kelly Burchill and Kyla. d's secret weapon is Ian (Molly) Meldrum, recruited after a long battle with Optus Vision.

"I'm sure ARC would have loved to have his services but fortunately he came aboard with us," Dezius said.

ARC's Vecera counters that her channel's presenters have credibility, most with experience in the music industry as performers or radio announcers. ARC's vee jays (video jockeys) are Ian Rogerson, Andy Glitre, former Chantoozie Angelica LaBozzetta, former Freaked Out Flower Child Coco, Phil Ceberano, actress Belinda Coterill and new faces Marie Azcona and Josh Sliwka .

"They were chosen because they are all quite knowledgeable about music and they have credibility. They're not just talking heads," Vecera said.

Vecera scoffed at the suggestion of a war between the two music channels, stating that ARC would not be influenced by its competitor.

"We have always had a very clear vision of what we want to do and I don't feel that Red has impinged on or threatened us in any way. We will just carry on doing what we want to do," she said.

"I know (Foxtel programmer) Brian Walsh is trying to say it's a war which I find very amusing. I don't see it as a war, I don't see Red as competition because we have made the best possible channel."

Said Dezius: "From what I hear, ARC is going to be very much a mainstream commercial channel so it looks like we're going for the same market."

"I think everyone's aware the market isn't big enough to support two channels and they are going to find it very tough because both are trying to appeal to a mass market but Red is the more established channel."

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