ME Television channel tries to regain its groove
ME Television announced last week that the 24-hour music channel will produce eight one-hour programs for the Soundtrack Channel spotlighting artists — including Andrew Bird, P.J. Harvey and Willie Nelson — culled from footage the channel shot during South by Southwest festivals from 2007 to 2010. The Soundtrack Channel was launched in 2002 by E! Entertainment executive Ben Lee and has focused on film and television music; following its acquisition by Arlington-based New Sound Media, it plans to broaden programming. The Soundtrack Channel is carried on Verizon’s FiOS TV service and AT&T U-Verse.
The move, says METV general manager Neil Hand, represents a welcome branding and syn- dication opportunity for the Austin channel, which has struggled since substantial layoffs in 2008 and the 2009 departure of Austin Music Partners CEO Connie Wodlinger. Former Dell Inc. Chief Technology Officer Kevin Kettler took over as CEO in August 2009. The station received word in May that Time Warner Cable had chosen not to renew its contract. Hand — who worked alongside Kettler at Dell as a vice president of consumer marketing — says the
channel is in contract negotiations aimed at keeping METV on the air past 2011, with plans to roll out new content over the summer.
“We’re running pretty fast right now with a lot of things to really buoy up what the channel’s been doing, because we’ve not been as new and as fresh as we’d like to have been,” Hand said. “We’ve not actually shot a new ‘ME Live’ inside the last 6 months, but we’re starting to film them again as of tomorrow.”
The first of a new round of “ME Live” episodes was broadcast live Thursday — tying in with South Congress’ First Thursdays — from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., with performances by Ray Wylie Hubbard and Shannon McNally.
Hand said the channel also aims to expand with programming focused on Austin’s film and “general entertainment” scenes. Though METV has added 300 videos to its rotation in the past two months, Hand acknowledged that the channel has largely been in shuffle mode throughout 2010.
“I think we sort of lost track. We kept ourselves up on the air but we didn’t keep ourselves at the forefront of keeping people aware of what’s going on. In August we’re going to talk a lot more about program changes and expansion,” Hand said. “This is going to be very measured. We want to execute each piece of it knowing what we’re doing. I think that was one of the problems in the beginning. The channel overextended itself, did a lot of different things. That caused the compression that needed to happen, but now we’re going to try to successively expand things.”
Notes: Hard-working and big-hearted Austin quintet
Reckless Kelly held its sophomore celebrity softball jam at the Dell Diamond in April, and band members Cody and
Willy Braun and Jay Nazz were on field June 23 to present the proceeds — totaling $35,000 — to four Central Texas youth baseball groups: the Miracle Leagues at Town & Country and San Antonio, Balcones Little League and Montopolis Little League. … In case you
missed the announcement, the folks at the Austin City Limits
Music Festival have released the date they’ll share the fest’s dayby-day schedules (when we’ll find out which of our favorite bands are playing against
each other. Choices!): July 13. They’ve also added some bands
to the lineup: Black Lips, First Aid Kit, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Sahara Smith, Silversun Pickups and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.