media and technology

Bunny busmess

The cable station famous for News Bunny and Topless Darts is turning tartan. Deirdre Molloy trails the News McBunny as Live TV’s new regional station, Edinburgh Live, gets ready to roll from the Hibs stadium in Easter Road.

he communications revo- Tlution continues. as Live TV

launches its new cable channel. Edinburgh Live. in the capital this month. Station managers are boasting of strong local news and sports coverage. challenging the perceived west coast bias of Scotland’s big stations. Will local viewers be so cnamoured and flock to cable in

larger numbers? The omens suggest they might.

Live TV. launching from London’s Canary Wharf in 1995, hoped to challenge satellite’s

dominance in the new media market. with its blend of high- profile spin-doctors (like Ms Street Porter) and stranded. streetwise

programming. That vision was quickly squeezed by financial

constraints and in-house bickering, and under infamously out- spoken tabloid supremo Kelvin MacKenzie. Live TV has become renowned for tacky output a la Topless Darts and panto-style current affairs co—presented by a large furry animal.

Designed to alternate half-hourly with Canary Wharf productions. Edinburgh Live will provide daily coverage of local news. sports. weather. travel and entertainments from 8am to 8pm. The blend of concept programming that normally establishes a station’s identity is conspicuously absent. but station director lain Hamilton

98 The List 10-23 Jan I997

~ " 3 .

Have they got news tor you: the Edinburgh Live team prepare to launch the capital’s that cable statlon believes lively. in-depth coverage South Stand at Easter Road. home Live to packages offered by local of city life is guaranteed to of Hibernian FC. Priority coverage cable providers. Telewest and succeed. ‘Anything that moves in of Hibs and Hearts will be a carrot CableTel, will increase uptake. the capital. we’ll be covering it.’ he to many fans frustrated at Scottish David Hutchinson, senior asserts. Television and BBC Scotland’s lecturer in media policy at

One thing that focus on the Old Firm. Glasgow Caledonian University,

definitely moves hearts (sic). minds and purse strings is football. and . , Edinburgh Live is unique caplta".we." ,be among television stations covem‘g 't'

in having its offices based in a soccer stadium. Its state of the art studio is a new addition to the

‘Anything that Al moves in the

21 rea.

present 86.000 cabled homes in the channel’s catchment which Livingston and Falkirk. That’s a potential audience of around l80.000 adults. Hamilton hopes the addition of Edinburgh

there are reckons competing with Radio Forth’s dominance of the local share will be the main concern for the station. Fears that the Mirror Group. which owns Live TV as well as the Daily Record and Sunday Mail, is building a

monopoly over Scottish news with


It’s hard to satirise Live TV. The channel does such a good job of taking the piss out of itself and. one feels. the viewer too. Former head of BBC youth programming Janet Street-Porter was hired by the Mirror Group to launch the station last year, but its identity bears the ink- stained fingerprints of Mirror Television chief Kelvin MacKenzie.

A former editor of The Sun. MacKenzie was the ‘brains’ behind such memorable headlines as ‘Gotcha!’ and ‘lt’s The Sun wot won it’. Much the same skills have been used to create tabloid TV in his image - Page 3 and all. The problem is, the programmes are produced on an annual budget which would probably pay for a couple of decent royal buy-ups for The Sun.

The most obvious example of this fiscally-challenged approach to progamme-making is the soap. Canary Wharf, set in the offices of a TV

company that happens to be based in London’s Wklands. Talk about an in-house production the

live TV: the story so far

- its sheer nerve. What other channel would employ a

extras are presumably Mirror TV staff who accidentally wandered into shot. Actually. Canary Wharf is for the chop, but ratings winners like Topless Darts - and its female-oriented equivalent, Lunchbox Volleyball - will remain. As too will ,- . the nightly Sex Show, which regularly features strippers doing bump and grind routines. Live TV does the corporate equivalent of tucking a folded fiver into their garter belts. But for all Live TV’s tackiness. it’s hard not to laugh at i Scandinavian weather-girl in a bikini and havelher read thé forecast - in Norwegian? Ulrika Jonsson must sleep sounder in the knowledge that there’s always a jab to fall back on. ' r _ And then there’s News Bunny - a man in a rabbit suit who signs the headlines for the hard of thinkingby giving the thumbs up or down dependingvon the tone of the storym; Who was it said no one ever went bust underestimating

great British public? (Eddie Gibb)