CMC Gone! Can Foxtel’s replacement Be A Blessing?

Written by on 5 May, 2020

In a sad day for Aussie music fans and most fast food franchises across the country, Foxtel announced it will turn off its in-house music channels on 30th June. This means the famed Country Music Channel (‘CMC’) will cease broadcasting along with sister channels in [V] and Max.

Luckily for country fans in Australia, Foxtel has struck a deal with Viacom (MTV & Nickelodeon) to bring the American ‘Country Music Television’ channel (CMT) to Australia.

Many Aussies will recognise CMT from their favourite American and Canadian artists’ social media posts. CMT is the American equivalent of CMC but with a larger programming lineup. Below we have compared the two and explored what the move from CMC to CMT means for Australian fans.

Country Music Channel

CMC launched in 2004, itself replacing an existing country music video channel. Since then its grown to… not much. The channel has featured a number of locally produced programs including highlights of the CMC Rocks music festival. Programs were short lived, often tied to festivals like CMC Rocks, Gympie Music and Deni Ute Musters, with local artists as hosts.

The lack of content isn’t a criticism of the man behind the channel Tim Daley, but rather a reflection of Foxtel’s poor investment in content that separates a 24/7 music channel from Spotify, YouTube and alike – content is king. Remember when MTV was just a music channel? It’s been a while.

A major highlight for CMC was the CMC Awards. A program that recognised local talent in front of an Australia-wide tv audience and a selection of international artists who walked the red carpet. This created a relationship between our local industry and the mass that is American country music. Sadly the awards were ceased and CMC continued as nothing more than music video playlists 24/7.

It should be noted that the CMC Rocks QLD Festival is a separate entity run by Chugg Entertainment and Potts Entertainment, with CMC essentially a naming rights sponsor.

Viacom’s music channels to replace Foxtel’s in-house channels

Country Music Television

This might come as a surprise but the move from CMC to CMT may have a benefit to music fans. Unlike CMC, this American station features a number of hosted programs with presenters adding personality to the broadcast. Think Stormy Warren, the CMC Rocks MC whose program ‘Headline Country’ was briefly syndicated on CMC.

CMT’s shows include a hosted Top 20 countdown, a show where country artists team up with artists from other genres, a game show featuring popular country personalities and a radio show live on tv (Much like Planet Country *HINT, HINT Viacom*). There are also sitcom repeats to fill in time, which is probably not ideal on a music channel but I’ve always felt CMC could have benefited from country-themed shows like Hart of Dixie, Nashville, The Ranch and alike – making a country music & culture channel. CMT is more than just a playlist of music videos on YouTube.

Planet Country with Big Stu & MJ pioneered radio being live video streamed in Australia

Moving To CMT Australia

Whilst keeping a country music channel in our complete control would be most ideal, the new CMT Australia could be a huge benefit.

The high production value of CMT means the on screen graphics/animations will be kept fresh. The relationship with CMA would provide better opportunities to create content and promotion. Being based in the US, the channel might feature a broader range of American and Canadian artists that might not be well-known locally. We also wouldn’t have to wait for their music to be distributed to CMC. A brand new banger could be on your screens when its still brand new.

Surely CMT would be looking to put their in-house programs onto our screens. Whilst we won’t get sitcom reruns (no loss), we will get a more in-depth viewing experience. CMT in Australia would have content that should atleast rival what [V] and Max were producing in their hey day.

Its reported that CMT in Australia will feature some music programmed locally, ensuring we still get to see our artists on the screen. Hopefully its not limited to big names like Lee Kernaghan, The Wolfe Brothers, et el, but also rising stars like Josh Setterfield, Cassidy Rae Gaiter and more. Additionally we hope these music videos find their way onto the American channel’s servers.

In An Ideal World…

CMT Australia could be a huge benefit to our industry too if CMT was committed to providing viewers with quality programming. In an ideal world, local content would bolster the CMT in-house productions. I’m not just talking about music but programming too. An Australian country music radio show could be put on the tv screen too, local personalities could present localised countdowns etc. (Kip Moore has a lot more radio/tv support here!).

Speaking of local programs, you can get a preview of what CMT Australia needs and CMC was missing on Saturday 16th May when Planet Country returns for a video special. Big Stu & I will be hosting a tv like talk show program live on facebook (with audio simulcast here on The Wolf).

Joining us will be leading Australian talent in Christie Lamb, prolific song writer turned solo star in Katie Jayne, rising duo Demage and country-rock frontman turned video producer Jay Seeney whose company Blacklist Productions is making this show possible. Perhaps a Planet Country-Blacklist-CMT joint venture should happen?

Have you ever noticed…

Is it me or are Foxtel’s original music channels most popular in fast food joints? Hopefully when they dust off the tv remote (if they haven’t lost it) to change to the new channels, they can also fix the aspect ratio. Seriously, if you install a tv in your diner, please make sure the picture isn’t stretched, cropped or fuzzy. I want to eat my fried chicken and watch popular music videos in what is always standard definition at best… without compromise…

Matthew ‘MJ’ Brokenbrough has many roles at The Wolf Australia. In addition to being a co-director of the business, he is also the chief Music Director overseeing the curation and programming of music. MJ is also the Digital Content Manager, overseeing our website and social media accounts. You will hear him on air too as the co-host of our award winning Planet Country radio show.

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