After the latest round of cuts by parent company Bell Media, there's really nothing left of MUCH (MuchMusic). But it's been years since the station's put out anything worthwhile anyway.
After buying CHUM in 2006, Bell owned two competing networks – Much and MTV Canada. For a while MTV put out the award-winning MTV Live and some genuinely entertaining news programming around, of course, reams of trash T.V. imported from their partner to the south.
At least there was some substance programmed beside the syndication. MuchMusic floundered with more content fawning over celebrities – ditching the culture reporting that gave them a niche of their own. Their claim as the genuine voice of Canadian youth became a bad joke.
Now they have virtually no original programming, with eight MUCH and MTV Canada shows cancelled as part of the planned 120 jobs cut by Bell across the company.
MuchMusic was rebranded as MUCH in 2011 and Much More Music became M3. I don't think there's a more literal example that illustrates the change in vision than that.
When the station aired their VJ search shows a decade ago, I always wanted to be one of those reporters, spreading the good word about music and the culture sustained by Canadian youth. For a good 20 years, VJs were cultural ambassadors for their own people, connecting the distant, disparate pockets of kids across this giant country.
It seemed like a fun place to work, when bands would drop by for unscripted hangs and they had dedicated shows for hip-hop and the heavy stuff. When VJs were doing their own writing, or flying live by the seat of their pants and their music expertise.
When the genius of Nardwuar was still on the station.
But that energy is long gone. No young teenager would have any reason to want to be a VJ today. And that's not entirely MuchMusic's fault – after all kids can just stand in front of their webcam and become a VJ without the T.V. station.
The cuts are being blamed on licence conditions that require half their day to be filled with music videos, which generally end up banished to overnight hours. Bell Media president Kevin Crull is quoted in The Globe & Mail saying “Kids do not watch music videos on television. You're not going to wait for somebody to program a music video when you have a million available on Vevo.”
So the business response is to end any and all original programming (except for the ubiquitous Countdown, yes Much was ahead of the curve on listicles), buying American (non-music) programming instead.
It would be sad, if the programming hadn't been so dismal for the last near-decade.
I'll end this post with a trip back to a time when the gutting of MuchMusic would have been terrible news. Far back enough that this video was definitely recorded to tape before eventually getting uploaded to YouTube. The long-defunct indie music show The New Music was probably the best thing the station ever put out, and I'd rather remember it this way.
Here's Monika Deol in 1993 with a story on the Punjabi dance music scene in Toronto.