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VH1
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Network Description & Basic Information (Source: wikipedia.org)

VH1 (which originally stood for Video Hits 1) is an American cable television channel that was created in 1985. With then four-year-old MTV's popularity rising drastically among teens, VH1 began with the intention to capitalize off of the success of the music video. However, VH1's aim was to focus on the lighter, softer side of popular music, including such musicians as Elton John, Sting, Diana Ross, Billy Joel, Kenny G, and Anita Baker, in hopes of appealing to people between the ages of 18 and 35, and possibly even older.

VH-1's popularity and clearance (number of cable systems carrying the channel) was minimal until the fledgling network was acquired by Viacom and placed into the MTV Networks stable. In 1994, in a bid to make itself more noticeable, VH-1 started to market itself as the "new VH1: Music First", and dropping the hyphen from its official name. It altered its format slightly from adult contemporary to adult top 40, now including musicians such as Ace of Base, Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, and other slightly more rock-oriented, popular music than what it had originally played, though lite favorites such as Des'ree, Elton John, Madonna, Céline Dion, and Mariah Carey still received heavy video play in 1994, as well.

By 1996, VH1 was heading down the same path as its sister station, MTV, choosing to focus more on music-related shows than on actual videos. Old episodes of American Bandstand could regularly be seen on the channel and the channel was reportedly in major risk of going bankrupt because of very poor ratings.

Things changed drastically for VH1 in the fall of 1996, with the premiere of Pop-Up Video, a very successful and popular show which offered tidbits of information as music videos were being played. "Pop-Up" television has gone on to become something of a cultural phenomenon, appearing on episodes of Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Brady Bunch reruns and even a special episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

In August of 1997, VH1 again hit it big with the premiere of the first of the network's flagship shows, Behind the Music. The show features interviews and biographies of some of popular music's biggest stars qualified to be profiled on the series. The premiere episode featured Milli Vanilli. To date, there are episodes on everyone from Queen Latifah to MC Hammer to Fleetwood Mac to TLC to "Weird Al" Yankovic, and more episodes are being produced continually.

Shortly after, VH1 created a companion series, Legends (originally sponsored by AT&T), profiling artists who have made a more significant contribution to music history to qualify as "Legends" (that is, those artists who do not fit in the category of Behind the Music biographies). The artists profiled so far have included Marvin Gaye, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Doors, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, Pink Floyd, The Bee Gees, and U2.

Oddly enough, there have been rare instances where artists have been profiled on both Behind The Music and Legends. These artists have been Elton John, Tina Turner, and John Lennon.

In 1998, VH1 debuted the first annual "VH1 Divas" concert. The original was live, and featured the "divas" Céline Dion, Shania Twain, Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan, and Aretha Franklin, and the "special guest" Carole King. The concert was a huge success and others followed featuring "divas" including Whitney Houston, Cher, Donna Summer, LeAnn Rimes, Mary J. Blige, Diana Ross, and Faith Hill. Elton John was also featured as a "diva" in one concert.

In the late 1990s VH1 continued to get more diverse and teen-based with its music selection. Various late-night rock shows have been shown on VH1, featuring alternative rock and metal videos from the 1980s and 1990s. VH1 eventually warmed up to harder rock acts such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Foo Fighters, and Metallica, and their new videos are generally added into VH1's playlist right away.

By the early 2000s, VH1 even began to play mainstream rap musicians. The latest videos by Eminem, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and Missy Elliott began to be shown in VH1's rotation and even started to crop up on VH1's top 20 countdown, as of early 2003.

During its "Music First" days, VH1 was involved in a foundation that served to preserve and enhance music education programs in local schools. The foundation, VH1 Save The Music, purchased new musical instruments to restore music education programs that have been cut due to budget reductions in the past or to save programs at risk of elimination due to lack of instruments. The Foundation also conducted awareness campaigns, musical instrument drives and fundraising events. It still exists as of 2005, but with a much lower profile.

In 2003, the network changed its focus again. Having saturated its Behind The Music series (and spinoff BTM2, a 30-minute version that told the stories of current chart-toppers) and gotten past the point of showing music videos on a regular basis, the network began to target the pop culture nostalgia market. The shift began with the massive success of the I Love the 80s 10-part series in late 2002 (based on the BBC series of the same name [1] (http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/ilove/)). This spawned I Love the 70s, which was not nearly as successful. Eventually, VH1 caught lightning in a bottle several times more with I Love the 80s Strikes Back, I Love the 90s, and I Love the 90s: Part Deux. The format (various entertainers giving their takes or opinions on popular culture) has been repeated for the weekly program Best Week Ever.

Having run out of decades, VH1 now produces its "The Greatest" series, in which a similar format is used to count down lists like The 50 Sexiest Video Moments, 100 Greatest Songs from the Past 25 Years, and 100 Greatest Kid Stars. VH1 also touts its "CelebReality" programming block of reality shows featuring B- and C-list celebrities, anchored by The Surreal Life, which mimics MTV's The Real World, instead placing minor celebrities from the past into a living environment.

VH1 has four sister channels, VH1 Classic, VH1 Country, VH1 Soul and VH1 Mega Hits which feature music videos and concert footage from Classic Rock, Country music, Soul music and hits of the 1990s and 2000s respectively.

On June 30th, 2005, VH1 Mega Hits will be replaced by the LOGO_channel, Viacom's channel targeted toward the Gay & Lesbian community.
 
 
 
 
 

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