MEDIA: SMASH HITS - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Joshua Hinton clicks through the latest channel launched by Emap Performance, Smash Hits

As you scroll through the endless music channels that Sky seems to

produce, your eyes are blurred by the monotonous ritual. Another company

has tried to break into the pop world with a new station which claims to

be a hotbed of excitement - Smash Hits channel from Emap

Performance.



Smash Hits was launched last month on Sky Digital, broadcasting the

latest hits to its audience. Smash Hits faces many other rival music

channels, such as MTV and even its sister channel, The Box. A straw poll

among my friends deemed this as the "Bubble Gum" pop show which appeals

to the 11- to 13-year-old audience.



Smash Hits' core audience is children aged up to 17 years old and it is

already being deplored for not being "cool". However, new channels will

always be criticised and this one is now up with the big boys of pop TV.

Through advertising and support from The Box it is now considered as one

of the family in the TV music world.



Looking at the core content of the channel, its staple is music videos

from the top 30, with new releases topping the bill. Like The Box,

viewers can call in and request the videos they'd like to see. Unlike

MTV, which has the distinctive VJ commentary going on between video

takes, Smash Hits is an endless stream of music videos with little else

going on.



The big daddy of the music channels, MTV, and the other channels

mentioned before, will not appreciate this attempt to enter their empire

because now they may have something to worry about. Smash Hits may be

just another music channel in Sky Digital's universe, but it offers

everything to its target audience.



The Smash Hits brand conjures up the image of a young, teeny pop

audience because of its original media property, Smash Hits magazine.

But the channel is meant to appeal to a very broad audience group. Emap

has therefore attempted to approach it in a more sophisticated way to

try and attract an older crowd of twenty- and thirty- somethings,

although I'm not sure that this has worked.



Smash Hits is the newcomer and the underdog and it may just surprise us

and challenge the likes of MTV, VH1 and Kiss, transforming itself into a

truly great music channel. It's a new channel, and as it finds its feet,

it may improve. But I think the channel has a lot of potential and there

will be a lot more animation and excitement to come from this young

upstart.



Media owner: Emap Performance

Transmission hours: 24 hours on Sky Digital

Core target audience: 15- to 34-year-olds

Audience share: 0.4 per cent (individuals watching Sky Digital)

Cost of a 30-second spot: pounds 155.70

Advertisers include: Fanta, Kellogg's Frosties, Telstar Records, Aero