MEDIA HEADLINER: Don’t worry about the launch of Magic, Emap TV chief says - Vincent Monsey says this is only the start of greater things, Claire Beale writes

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.

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

Emap.



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

to Emap.



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

different divisions.



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,

too.



The Monsey file

1979 Radio Sales International, founder, and president of Radio Caroline

International.

1986 CellTel Communications, chairman.

1991 Video Juke Box Network, chief operating officer.

1992 The Box, chief executive.

1997 Emap Television, managing director.



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