Total Country (formerly Channel U, Channel AKA and Massive R&B) is a British digital satellite TV music channel, owned by All Around the World Productions, available through Sky within the UK and Ireland on channel 373. It currently focuses on celebrating country music, old and new, from Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks to Carrie Underwood, Ward Thomas and The Shires.[a]
|Launched||3 February 2003|
|Owned by||All Around the World Productions|
|Picture format||16:9 SDTV|
|Audience share||0.01% (September 2015BARB),|
|Formerly called||Channel U (2003–09)|
Channel AKA (2009–18)
Massive R&B (2018)
|Sister channel(s)||Now 80s|
|11582 H 22000 5/6|
|Virgin Media||Channel 348|
|TVPlayer||Watch live (UK only)|
As Channel UEdit
Channel U was a significant outlet not only for established artists, but also for those who are just starting out. Its material "includes crude productions shot with handheld digital video cameras," and helps new musicians attract attention and build a fan base. According to its website, "the aim of the channel was to highlight to the public, the raw and unsigned talent we have in the UK, and give them a platform from which they could perform," and it has been successful in this mission, as suggested by the production and popularity of such compilation CDs as Channel U: The Album.
Many artists have expressed their loyalty to the channel in their lyrics; for example, in Lady Sovereign's "9 to 5", "Channel who? Oh Channel U, the ones who made me huge, like Katie Price's boobs!". Other artists to comment on Channel U include Kano, Ironik, Lethal Bizzle, Sway, Remi Nicole, Mr Wong, and Dizzee Rascal. Dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip criticised Channel U in their song "Fixed", as did Lowkey, who cited the absence of any innovation and the channel's lack of desire to take risks.
In October 2005, the first annual Channel U Awards were held in London with live performances from its underground playlist.
Before he joined MTV to host the British version of Pimp My Ride, Tim Westwood had a show on Channel AKA, along with his other media activity. Following the success of the Westwood show the channel further developed its programming by licensing a lifestyle TV series, The Ballers Show, in 2006. The 30-minute show gave its audience the unique opportunity to see the real lives of footballers off the pitch and featured Premier League football stars including Jermain Defoe and Jermaine Pennant.
As Channel AKAEdit
The parent company of Fizz TV and Channel U went into voluntary liquidation at the beginning of February, 2009, before being purchased by Mushroom TV. When purchasing the two channels, Mushroom TV agreed that Channel U and Fizz TV should be rebranded. The two channels were rebranded as Channel AKA and Starz TV on 16 March 2009.
Aims: The aim of the channel is to provide fresh and exclusive entertainment to the viewers and to allow viewers to voice their opinions on videos through the power of voting. Not only does this give the viewer control over their viewing, it also allows artists to see how people are reacting to their music. AKA (formerly Channel U) highlights to the public, the raw and unsigned talent we have in the UK, and it has been successful in this mission, as suggested by the production and popularity of such compilation CDs as Channel U: The Album.
On 22 June 2012, Mushroom TV entered liquidation. Ofcom's television broadcast licensing update for May 2012, indicates that Channel AKA was sold to All Around the World Productions, who at the time owned Clubland TV and Massive R&B (now Now 90s) and had also acquired Greatest Hits TV under UltimateHits Limited. On 29 November 2012, the channel launched on Freesat but was removed on 15 April 2013. The channel returned to Freesat in October 2015 alongside its sister channels Chilled TV, Clubland TV and Now Music.
On 14 July 2016, the channel's founder, Darren Platt, died.
As Massive R&BEdit
The channel was renamed as Massive R&B on 1 June 2018. This has been the second time the name has been used for a channel owned by All Around the World, after originally launching on 15 August 2011 as a rebrand of WTF (an initialism of Weekly Top Forty), until 27 March 2013 when it was rebranded as Planet Pop and swapped places with Channel AKA.
Massive R&B focused on celebrating classic hip-hop & R&B from the 1990s and 2000s, and current urban music - from US rap to Grime.[a] As Channel AKA and Channel U, it focused on playing upcoming UK urban, R&B, Grime and Hip-Hop music and helped the breakthrough for acts such as Tinchy Stryder, Tinie Tempah, Dizzee Rascal, Chip, Wretch 32, Devlin, Giggs, Skepta and N-Dubz.
As Total CountryEdit
The channel launched on Virgin Media on 8 March 2019, along with sister channel Now 90s. It was previously available via the red button on Clubland TV on the platform along with Now 80s and Now 90s until it was removed on 1 March 2018.
In June 2005, the channel was fined £18,000 by Ofcom for a number of offences, including the broadcasting of inappropriate material, using premium rate telephone services in programmes, and failing to ensure a clear distinction between programmes and advertisements.
- Frere-Jones, Sasha (21 March 2005). "True Grime". The New Yorker.
- Leon, B. (3 September 2007). "Channel U: The Future Of UK Urban Music?". The Scene Magazine.
- "The Channel U Shop: About".
- Macpherson, Alex (21 December 2007). "Various artists, Channel U: The Album". The Guardian.
- "The Ballers Show". The Mirror. 5 May 2006. Archived from the original on 23 March 2009.
- "Notice: 1618796 (Issue: 60193)". The London Gazette. 28 June 2012.
- "Television Broadcast Licensing Update May 2012". Ofcom. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Channel AKA joins Freesat line up". a516digital. 29 November 2012.
- "Freesat lines up more music channels". a516digital. 15 April 2013.
- "Celebrating Channel U's Darren Platt: unsung hero of the UK grime scene". The Guardian. 15 July 2016.
- Channel AKA TV [@channelAKA385] (1 June 2018). "ANNOUNCEMENT! That's it - Channel AKA is no more! We've pioneered grime & UK urban with Channel U & AKA giving first play to many homegrown acts. But today our friends Massive R&B take over Sky373 & we say thanks for all YOUR support over the last 15 years! Love always AKA" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "New Country TV Channel To Launch In November 2018 - Chris Country". Chris Country. 12 October 2018.
- Total Country [@TotalCountryTV] (8 March 2019). "It's the news that all @virginmedia customers have been waiting for! We are on channel 348 playing all your country favourites right now!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Consideration of Video Interactive Television Plc in respect of its service Channel U" (PDF). Ofcom. Retrieved 16 December 2013.