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NOW 70s
Picture format16:9 576i SDTV
OwnerAll Around the World Productions
Sister channelsNow 80s
Now 90s
Clubland TV
Launched3 February 2003
Former namesChannel U (2003–09)
Channel AKA (2009–18)
Massive R&B (2018)
Total Country (2018–19)
Freeview (Manchester only)Channel 78
Virgin MediaChannel 348
SkyChannel 368
Astra 2G
11582 H 22000 5/6

Now 70s (formerly Channel U, Channel AKA, Massive R&B and Total Country) is a British digital satellite TV music channel, owned by All Around the World Productions, available through Sky, Freeview and Virgin Media within the UK and Ireland. It focuses on music from the 1970s, being the third decade-oriented channel in the Now portfolio, along with Now 80s and Now 90s.


As Channel U

Channel U: 3 March 2003 - 16 March 2009
Channel U: 3 March 2003 - 16 March 2009

Channel U was a significant outlet not only for established artists, but also for those who are just starting out, helping the breakthrough for acts such as Tinchy Stryder, Tinie Tempah, Dizzee Rascal, Chip, Wretch 32, Devlin, Giggs, Skepta and N-Dubz. Its material "includes crude productions shot with handheld digital video cameras,"[1] and helps new musicians attract attention and build a fan base.[2] According to its website, "the aim of the channel was to highlight to the public, the raw and unsigned talent we have in the UK, and give them a platform from which they could perform,"[3] and it has been successful in this mission, as suggested by the production and popularity of such compilation CDs as Channel U: The Album.[4]

Many artists have expressed their loyalty to the channel in their lyrics; for example, in Lady Sovereign's "9 to 5", "Channel who? Oh Channel U, the ones who made me huge, like Katie Price's boobs!". Other artists to comment on Channel U include Kano, Ironik, Lethal Bizzle, Sway, Remi Nicole, Mr Wong, and Dizzee Rascal. Dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip criticised Channel U in their song "Fixed", as did Lowkey, who cited the absence of any innovation and the channel's lack of desire to take risks.

Channel U commissioned the first 'grime comedy',[5] an animated adult sitcom named The Booo Krooo. The TV series ran for six episodes and focused on the misadventures of three young MCs trying to break into the music game, but often ending up worse off than when they started. The Booo Krooo was originally a cult classic to readers of RWD Magazine and came got the attention of the Channel U after being co-signed by Missy Elliott.[6] The animation series was developed by Matt Mason and Alex Donne Johnson with illustrations by Julian Johnson, aka Art Jaz. Music publication Ransom Note said:

"Boo Kroo were essentially a proto version of People Just Do Nothing. After proving a popular feature in the magazine, Boo Kroo were given their own show on Channel U – which is how this video for the track (by a peak form Sticky) came about." [7]

In October 2005, the first annual Channel U Awards were held in London with live performances from its underground playlist.

Before he joined MTV to host the British version of Pimp My Ride, Tim Westwood had a show on Channel AKA, along with his other media activity. Following the success of the Westwood show the channel further developed its programming by licensing a lifestyle TV series, The Ballers Show, in 2006. The 30-minute show gave its audience the unique opportunity to see the real lives of footballers off the pitch and featured Premier League football stars including Jermain Defoe and Jermaine Pennant.[8]

On 14 July 2016, the channel's founder, Darren Platt, died. In his obituary in The Guardian the newspaper stated that Channel U "forged a place for a genre that began its life ignored by the mainstream".[9]

On 25 September 2020, it was confirmed that Channel U would be returning to TV on 13 November 2020 to promote the film Against All Odds.[10]

As Channel AKA

Channel AKA: 16 March 2009 - 11 April 2014
Channel AKA: 16 March 2009 - 11 April 2014
Channel AKA: 11 April 2014 - 1 June 2018
Channel AKA: 11 April 2014 - 1 June 2018

The parent company of Fizz TV and Channel U went into voluntary liquidation at the beginning of February, 2009, before being purchased by Mushroom TV. When purchasing the two channels, Mushroom TV agreed that Channel U and Fizz TV should be rebranded. The two channels were rebranded as Channel AKA and Starz TV on 16 March 2009.

On 22 June 2012, Mushroom TV entered liquidation.[11] Ofcom's television broadcast licensing update for May 2012, indicates that Channel AKA was sold to All Around the World Productions, who at the time owned Clubland TV and Massive R&B (now Now 90s) and had also acquired Greatest Hits TV under UltimateHits Limited.[12] On 29 November 2012, the channel launched on Freesat but was removed on 15 April 2013.[13][14] The channel returned to Freesat on 1 October 2015 alongside its sister channels Chilled TV, Clubland TV and Now Music, before being removed again on 12 May 2017.

In 2018, Channel AKA ceased broadcasting and has since been remembered for introducing the music careers of artists such as Dizzee Rascal, Kano, Wiley and Lethal Bizzle.[15][16]

As Massive R&B

Massive R&B logo
Massive R&B logo

The channel was renamed as Massive R&B on 1 June 2018, now focusing on celebrating classic hip-hop & R&B from the 1990s and 2000s, and current urban music - from US rap to UK grime.[a][17] This has been the second time the name has been used for a channel owned by All Around the World, after originally launching on 15 August 2011 as a rebrand of WTF (an initialism of Weekly Top Forty), until 27 March 2013 when it was rebranded as Planet Pop and swapped places with Channel AKA.

As Total Country

Total Country logo
Total Country logo

On 1 November 2018, 5 months after Massive R&B relaunched, It was rebranded as a country music channel called Total Country, celebrating country music, old and new, from Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks to Carrie Underwood, Ward Thomas and The Shires.[a][18]

The channel launched on Virgin Media on 8 March 2019, along with sister channel Now 90s. It was previously available via the red button on Clubland TV on the platform along with Now 80s and Now 90s until it was removed on 1 March 2018.[19]

As Now 80s

Total Country closed on 20 November 2019[20] and until 27 December 2019, Now 80s used this slot since the slot that is normally used for Now 80s is used for Now Christmas.[21]

As Now 70s

On 27 December 2019, the channel was rebranded as Now 70s, becoming the third decade-oriented channel in the Now-branded portfolio.[22]

On 26 February 2020, the channel launched on Freeview on channel 78, replacing Now 90s.[23] It was removed from the platform on 26 May 2020, coinciding with Together increasing its broadcast hours,[24] and returned on 8 July 2020 as an exclusive to Manchester on channel 78 and via Channelbox on channel 271 (connected TVs only).[25][26]

As well as various chart shows (with former Radio 1 DJs like Mark Goodier and Bruno Brookes) and artist battles (such as Bowie vs Bolan, or ABBA vs Boney M.) based upon the music of the 1970s, the channel also features music from the 1960s in their Now 70s presents Now 60s programming block, in a similar fashion to how Now 80s had a 1970s programme block prior to the launch of Now 70s as a standalone channel.


In June 2005, the channel was fined £18,000 by Ofcom for a number of offences, including the broadcasting of inappropriate material, using premium rate telephone services in programmes, and failing to ensure a clear distinction between programmes and advertisements.[27]


  1. ^ a b As read on the Sky guide when choosing a favourite channel


  1. ^ Frere-Jones, Sasha (21 March 2005). "True Grime". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  2. ^ Leon, B. (3 September 2007). "Channel U: The Future Of UK Urban Music?". The Scene Magazine. Archived from the original on 28 March 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2009.
  3. ^ "The Channel U Shop: About". Archived from the original on 2009-02-08. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
  4. ^ Macpherson, Alex (21 December 2007). "Various artists, Channel U: The Album". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 November 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  5. ^ Mcquaid, Ian. "Gone To A Rave: An Incomplete History Of Grime Comedy". The Ransom Note. Archived from the original on 2019-04-22.
  6. ^ "the Booo Krooo Work It". Archived from the original on 2004-06-30.
  7. ^ "Gone To A Rave: An Incomplete History Of Grime Comedy".
  8. ^ "The Ballers Show". The Mirror. 5 May 2006. Archived from the original on 23 March 2009.
  9. ^ "Celebrating Channel U's Darren Platt: unsung hero of the UK grime scene". The Guardian. 15 July 2016. Archived from the original on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Grime station Channel U to return to TV". BBC News. 2020.
  11. ^ "Notice: 1618796 (Issue: 60193)". The London Gazette. 28 June 2012. Archived from the original on 22 May 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  12. ^ "Television Broadcast Licensing Update May 2012". Ofcom. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  13. ^ "Channel AKA joins Freesat line up". a516digital. 29 November 2012. Archived from the original on 28 May 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  14. ^ "Freesat lines up more music channels". a516digital. 15 April 2013. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  15. ^ Adegoke, Yomi (2018). "RIP Channel U: the urban music champion that gave power to the people". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2019-06-26.
  16. ^ Yanney, Henry. "15 Channel U Videos We Will Never Forget". Complex. Archived from the original on 2019-09-25.
  17. ^ Channel AKA TV [@channelAKA385] (1 June 2018). "ANNOUNCEMENT! That's it - Channel AKA is no more! We've  pioneered grime & UK urban with Channel U & AKA giving first play to many homegrown acts. But today our friends Massive R&B take over Sky373 & we say thanks for all YOUR support over the last 15 years! Love always AKA" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  18. ^ "New Country TV Channel To Launch In November 2018 - Chris Country". Chris Country. 12 October 2018. Archived from the original on 20 October 2018. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  19. ^ Total Country [@TotalCountryTV] (8 March 2019). "It's the news that all @virginmedia customers have been waiting for! We are on channel 348 playing all your country favourites right now!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  20. ^ Total Country channel closes
  21. ^ Total Country [@TotalCountryTV] (19 November 2019). "We have an important announcement to make" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  22. ^ NOW That's What I Call Music [@NOWMusic] (14 December 2019). "Yes the rumours are true, we're about to launch our THIRD music TV channel! Who's excited??? Get ready for NOW 70s TV which launches 27th December on Sky & Virgin!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  23. ^ Now 70s launches on Freeview
  24. ^ Early return to regular Freeview hours for Together - RXTV Info | RXTV log
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Consideration of Video Interactive Television Plc in respect of its service Channel U" (PDF). Ofcom. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013.

External links

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