When Emap bought a tiny TV station called the Box exactly a year
ago, it seemed a strangely muted move for a media giant so perfectly
positioned to make a splash in television.
As a company which has earned itself a reputation for bold dynamism and
a provenance over the youth market, Emap’s entry into television was
supposed to be hip, happening and vibrant.
Sure, the Box is about pop music and is a perfectly respectable, if very
low-key, operation which fails to trouble your average TV buyer. But it
hardly seemed the statement of intent we’ve come to expect from
Now the company has announced plans to set up another version of the Box
format for older viewers, a sort of Box Gold. It’s called Magic and,
although it’s not due to launch until next spring, it already seems
woefully less than radical.
But the message from Emap TV’s managing director, Vincent Monsey, is
don’t worry, this is only the start. ’You have to remember that although
I’m always quoted as being the managing director of Emap Television,
Emap TV doesn’t really exist as much at the moment,’ he explains. ’We’re
still only talking about a year since the purchase of the Box, since
Emap staked its claim on TV.’
Ponytailed Monsey, 47, friend to the Spice Girls - whose early career
received a boost from the Box - says that those 12 months have seen the
sowing of some very important seeds. ’A lot of ideas are already being
formed; next year I think you’ll start to see them coming to fruition
and you’ll see an aggressive drive from Emap to position itself firmly
in this medium. It will be a force to be reckoned with.’
Monsey’s claim is a bold one, but one that Emap’s portfolio of existing
brands are already being marshalled to help make a reality.
For Emap has made no secret of its intention to exploit the power of its
established products across media. First there was Kiss 100, then Kiss
TV. Then there was the decision to switch many of Emap’s Gold radio
stations into a new format under the Magic brand. Now Magic is being
adapted for its TV debut, building on Monsey’s experience of the cable
and satellite TV market.
In the multi-channel, digitally compressed and ultimately overwhelming
TV market of the next millennium, familiar brands will become
touchstones for the weary viewer. As Monsey puts it: ’If you consider
that in the next few years, convergence will see computers, the Internet
and hundreds of TV channels coming together, then you begin to
comprehend the dramatic changes facing our industry and the way you need
to have brands that will really stand out. And with the new electronic
programme guides enabling viewers to become their own schedulers, create
their own TV channels, you have to have a marker to draw them in.’
Which is where Emap’s established brands give the company a leg-up.
’There are a whole host of opportunities to exploit the wealth of Emap’s
media assets and to take our consumers and advertisers with us from one
medium to the next,’ Monsey says.
Of course, the real jewels in the Emap crown as far as brand
exploitation is concerned remain the magazine brands. It’s a treasure
chest to make Monsey’s eyes gleam. ’At Emap there’s a huge catalogue of
ready-made publishing brands for us to tap into, and many of them are
really strong mainstream names such as FHM, Q, Smash Hits and More!.
They have a defined market, a sort of niche proposition which will give
them an edge in a fragmented television market.’
For a guy whose first love was always radio, (’a regular Mr Rock ’n’
Roll,’ according to Emap On Air’s managing director, Tom Toumazis),
Monsey is surprisingly enthusiastic about all this multi-channel TV
stuff. His first real taste came as the chief operating officer of Video
Juke Box, the US TV station that allows viewers to vote for the videos
they want to see on screen.
Monsey, of course, recognised the potential of the format for UK
audiences and the Box was born in the UK in 1992 in Monsey’s garage.
It was Monsey’s baby and another example of what he describes as his
entrepreneurial spirit. And yet it was Monsey who orchestrated the sale
A year on, he sounds pretty comfortable about being part of the Emap
group. ’It’s the sort of operation that leaves its management to run the
They provide corporate back-up, but it’s not like being part of a huge
faceless company,’ Monsey insists. And he gets to keep that ponytail,
The Monsey file
1979 Radio Sales International, founder, and president of Radio Caroline
1986 CellTel Communications, chairman.
1991 Video Juke Box Network, chief operating officer.
1992 The Box, chief executive.
1997 Emap Television, managing director.