FRIDAY FUSS | The Unofficial MK Obituary


“Musiek Kanaal (MK), of South Africa, died at 12:00 AM, Wednesday, July 31, 2013 in a Multichoice boardroom in Randburg, Johannesburg, at the age of 8. It was born mid-2005 in Randburg, Johannesburg, to M-Net and DSTV.

 MK is survived by its online platform,

 MK was the sole television platform for the promotion and distribution of the emerging alternative music scene. The channel was a fuel for the resurgence of local filmmaking, stimulating the alternative music video market. The predominantly Afrikaans channel was pivotal to the rapid emergence of bands such as Van Coke Kartel, Straatligkinders and Die Heuwels Fantasties.

 The funeral service will take place at 12:00 AM, on Wednesday, July 31, 2013, on channel 324. The burial will be broadcast.

 Memorial contributions may be made here

On Wednesday, the 20th of June, Channel24 broke news of the end of the DSTV music channel, MK, in an article which attempted to make the termination of the solitary televisual alternative music platform exciting.

 At its launch in 2005, MK89 rapidly evolved as a key contributor to the stimulation of the local alternative scene. Although the channel was predominantly Afrikaans it created a platform which was absent up to that time. Using MTV as a model the channel became the leading source for most aspects of the alternative music scene with programming such as Studio 1, MK Top10, MK Ondergrond, Hoordosis, AMP and the Jackass-replica, AF. The channel also created an awards ceremony rewarding those who have supported the channel and with the MK MVP project the channel provided direct financial-aid to the industry, enhancing the production standard & quality of local music videos. The network even started the Vrede Foundation during the untimely passing of a pivotal figure in the launch of MK, Herman Pretorius.


Internet happened.

The growth of social media meant that most youths left the television screen for a touch screen. Online communities such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube along with local blogs such as texxandthecity, wat-kyk-jy and G A R Y | C O O L became the go-to destinations for all things alternative.

The channels alternative focus meant the target market was a small representation of the national population. The alternative scene is emergent, but we need to accept that alternative is a bit-player in the larger scheme of things, taking a back seat to gospel, kwaito and house. The Afrikaans setting only contributed to estrangement of more of the prospective market. Programming like MK Skole, Matrix and content more suited to KykNet excarbated what was already a dwindling viewership.

Thinking of the bottom-line, ledgers and dividends; the cobras-in-ties decided to can the television channel opting for a cost-efficient web-based format. Ultimately, Multichoice is a listed company which is dedicated to maximising profit, and as most alternative artists will tell you, the scene is not lucrative.

Yes MK will continue to fight the battle in cyberspace, but this feels like a kick to the nuts for the alternative industry. As Tecla Ciolfi succinctly stated, “there’s nothing quite like that musical boner you get when you see your video on TV for the first time”. Locally, television remains a significant medium as the online-sphere is restricted by factors of cost and speed.

Why not overhaul the brand in order to appeal to a larger audience, creating a channel which would support a wider variety of artists. A local genre-busting, multi-cultural channel not bound the barriers of language. A channel where we could watch likes of Okmalumkoolkat, The Brother Moves On, Savage Lucy, Petite Noir, Facing The Gallows, SPAZA$HOP, Big Space, Fuzigish, BLK JKS and Eyes Like Mirrors alongside MK stalwarts such as Fokofpolisiekar, Bittereinder and Straatligkinders.

Fucking playlist AKA if you have to; just don’t take away the televised platform.

It doesn’t need to be a case of internet-killed-the-video-star in what may be, “the biggest blow for SA’s original music scene since the Anglo-Boer war”.

The revolution may just not be televised.

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