The Caribbean will have a very powerful vehicle to promote its music in the form of MTV’s newest channel, Tempo, which will begin broadcasting in October 2005 in select Caribbean territories through a distribution deal with Innovative TV based in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands.
The 24-hour English language channel will broadcast a wide range of Caribbean lifestyle programming including food, sports and music.
Frederick A. Morton Jr., senior vice president and deputy general counsel of business and legal affairs for MTV Networks, spearheaded the concept of a Caribbean channel at MTV. According to Morton, Tempo will present local as well as internationally-produced videos by artistes representing the English, French and Spanish speaking Caribbean, alongside programming acquired from regional TV stations and the MTV network’s library.
Recruited to play a pivotal role in the new channel is Haitian-born hip-hop star Wyclef Jean, whose responsibility will be to develop some original series and documentaries and help shape the musical taste of the network.
The channel will also be seeking to partner with other entities where appropriate, to create programming showcasing various aspects of Caribbean cultural heritage.
Tempo’s ultimate goal is to reach every cable and satellite household in the Caribbean.
Inaugural programming at Tempo will focus on the advent of Carnival in the Caribbean. Morton, in describing the feature, commented, “Whether it is in the Dominican Republic or Trinidad or Jamaica, everybody has a carnival. That is when our culture comes alive and there are no class issues, just people raising the spirit, being prideful in their culture. So what better place to start than with programming that highlights this great unifying force among us.”
For Caribbean players, Tempo will be more than welcome, as it will be opening doors that before were closed to them. A lot of good Caribbean artistes could not dream of having their songs and videos aired on a channel of this calibre.
Videos by Caribbean artistes representing soca, zouk, salsa, kompa and even the much talked about dancehall reggae have had an extremely limited exposure on MTV due primarily to poor production quality stemming from budget constraints.
Mr. Morton pointed out that some qualitative standards must be maintained for inclusion on Tempo as “when the viewer turns from MTV or Comedy Central to Tempo, there can’t be a drop off.”
Of course, with an opportunity like this for promotion, producers will be more than willing to step up the quality of their production.
A series of concerts will be held across the Caribbean to launch Tempo. October 15-16 will see the Jamaican launch with an exciting, all-star cast of performers including the controversial American hip-hop star, The Game.
According to Morton, the two-day event is more than merited in paying proper tribute to the genres of Jamaican music; and of course it’s a platform for the artistes to be seen around the world.
The Game plus other acts including Jimmy Cliff, Toots Hibbert, Mario Winans, Musiq, Soul Child, Vybz Kartel, Bounty Killer, Assassin, Wayne Marshall and Spragga Benz will be in action to give the expected large turnout a quality show. The two-day event takes place at James Bond Beach in St. Mary.
Rapper The Game should have the gathering of mostly young adults out in numbers at the James Bond Beach as he thrills them with his big hits. His red hot album ‘The Documentary’, with top tracks such as ‘Hate It Or Love It’, ‘Dreams’ and ‘This Is How We Do’, is steaming up the scene right now.
Most recently, he completed shooting a movie and is now focusing on launching his own line of sneakers.
For more information about the new MTV channel, visit http://www.gottempo.com.