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Music Box
Broadcast areaUnited Kingdom
OwnerMusic Box Limited
Thorn EMI
Virgin Vision
Launched29 March 1984
ReplacedSuper Channel
Closed30 January 1987

Music Box was a pioneering pan-European 24-hour cable and satellite television channel that ran from 29 March 1984 to 30 January 1987, and was operated by Music Box Limited. It was originally one of three services (along with Premiere and The Children's Channel) that formed Thorn EMI's venture into satellite television as a British version of MTV, and later became part of Virgin Vision as one of Richard Branson's business ventures launched in 1983.

A special Italian version of Music Box was created in the spring of 1988, and some other shows were also re-transmitted by Japanese broadcaster NHK.

The network was originally based in the heart of London, in a building where Virgin Vision and Super Channel were also based, and later gave home to the offices of CNN International until 2007. The address during the satellite years was 19-21 Rathbone Place.



As a 24-hour television channel during the 1980s, Music Box was able to reach 60 million potential viewers in Europe and the Middle East thanks to satellite distribution. At the time, a satellite dish and receiver were very expensive and for this reason had better viewing figures in countries where cable television was already used such as Belgium, Denmark, France, West Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

It was said to have made a small contribution to the overthrow of eastern European communist regimes as its prime, it was illegally watched by young Europeans living in those countries using makeshift satellite systems, and it gave many young people their first view of life in the rest of Europe.


The creator of Thorn EMI's three satellite channels as director of programmes was Julian Mounter, who joined Music Box from Thames Television. Recognising that income for satellite television would be slow in coming, Mounter set about negotiating revolutionary union deals to enable the use of smaller crews in the studio and on location, commandeered a boardroom at the headquarters of Thorn EMI as one of the studios and a small basement on Shaftesbury Avenue, and it was there that many of the programmes were made before better facilities were found. The channels broke new ground in graphics, promotions, presentation and set standards within practices still followed today. Mounter left in 1986 to become director general of Television New Zealand, and the three channels then took on individual senior management. Directors on the channel included Rob Jones, who took over from Mounter as director of programmes, Geoffrey Davies, Rod Fairweather, John Leach, Les Harris, Ludo Graham, Simon Sanders and Siubhan Richmond, as Carol McGiffin was part of the production team.[citation needed]

On 9 August 1986, the Yorkshire Television region of the UK's ITV decided to go 24 hours a day and filled its entire nighttime period until 6am with a simulcast of Music Box.[1]

On 30 January 1987, the last music video that played was "Don't Give Up" by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, whether this song is also shown before closed early from the defunct satellite network Europa TV three months prior. Shortly after the service ceased for the final time, Super Channel launches on the same frequency which previously used by Music Box on pan-European satellite Eutelsat I F-1 (ECS-1) located at 13° east, replaced during the year by Eutelsat I F-4 (ECS-4). For this reason, Music Box stopped being a 24-hour television channel and Virgin set up Music Box as an independent producer of music programmes, continuing to broadcast its shows until the end of September 1987 for ten hours a day on Super Channel. From October 1987 until January 1990, it was reduced from ten hours a day to just a couple of hours a day of music programmes to be produced for Super Channel, with a two-month long break in late 1988 due to problems related to the sale of this service.

Later years

Music Box ended its satellite broadcasts in January 1990 with the last pan-European showing of The Power Hour, it became a specialised producer of music shows for major British broadcasters and is now owned by Tinopolis, which also owns the firm Sunset + Vine, previously the owner of Music Box.

The company's best-known programmes of this period are the late night ITV show Forever, which features pop videos and interview clips from the recently stock footage, and the Capital One dance music show Mixmag TV which they produced on 1 November 2001, following their move from Rapture TV that previous day.


This article may contain excessive or irrelevant examples. Please help improve the article by adding descriptive text and removing less pertinent examples. (September 2018)

As a pan-European satellite channel (1984–1990)

For other British broadcasters (1990–2007)


The following presenters have all been employed by Music Box either as presenters or VJs:

Some presenters also recorded a track and video for a song called "Back to the Rhythm" under the name of The Rap Pack in December 1986, they were: Nino Firetto, Amanda Redington, Gloria Thomas, Timmy Mallett, Steve Blacknell, Simon Potter and Martin Buchanan.

See also


  1. ^ Regional Television Variations. The Times, Saturday, 9 August 1986; p. 32
  2. ^ "Collections Search | BFI | British Film Institute". Retrieved 16 December 2020.