MTV Tempo Will Take Caribbean Music To Higher Heights – Morton

Hardbeatnews, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Mon. Oct. 31, 2005: The man at the centre of the new Tempo TV channel believes that the music of the islands of the Caribbean will garner much international attention when the MTV channel gets officially underway on November 21.

Rutgers University School of Law alum, Frederick Morton, whose idea has led to the channel’s creation, noted that the calypso, reggae, reggaeton and hip hop music genre of the region is poised for international take-off.

“Tempo could be a platform for their music in the (Caribbean) region and, by next year, could be the avenue into North America,” Morton said in a recent interview during the Barbados launch of the channel, which featured top performers like 17-year-old Bajan sensation Rihanna, whose song ‘Pon De Replay,’ was major hit last summer.

Morton, who was born and raised in St. Croix, the United States Virgin Islands to Nevisian parents, noted that for the past five year Caribbean performers have been topping the chart with major summer hits, detailing the efforts of Elephant Man, with ‘Pon De River,’ Sean Paul with his ‘Dutty Rock’ Album, Kevin Lyttle with ‘Turn Me On,’ and Rupee with ‘Tempted to Touch.’

“The Caribbean has a thriving music industry that needs to be recognized,” said Morton, who as senior vice president and deputy general counsel and business and legal affairs for MTV networks, a division of Viacom Inc., pitched the channel idea to MTV two-and-a-half years ago.

“There was never really an infrastructure for it (Caribbean music), so hopefully now that Tempo has come along, it will create an infrastructure, brought to you by MTV, a world class channel. This will hopefully result in increased record sales and deals,” he added. “All of a sudden you have a changed music industry.”

But Morton sees beyond the music, noting that the region also has “a budding film industry, and a food and cuisine industry that has gone all over the world.”

Still the Newark, New Jersey resident remains modest. “I don’t want to suggest that Tempo is the end-all but it’s definitely a platform,” he says.

Tempo is set to begin airing across the Caribbean in 400,000 homes in 20 Caribbean markets on November 21 and in the U.S. in 2006. It will provide a mix of original and acquired programming.

A number of Caribbean concerts have been held all month, leading up to the launch. It kicked off in Jamaica with concerts on October 15 & 16 and was followed by a Barbados concert on October 21.

The party moved on to St. Maarten on October 25 and to St. Croix on October 27 with a big bash in Nevis last night, October 30. It wraps up with the Trinidad & Tobago bacchanal on November 5.

Top regional artists like Luciano, Morgan Heritage, Elephant Man; Rihanna, Beres Hammond and Machel Montano have been helping to launch the channel along with several U.S. entertainers who are of Caribbean heritage will also perform including – The Game, Mario and Musiq Soulchild, Angie Stone, Wyclef Jean and Doug E. Fresh.

Tempo joins Viacom’s roster of popular and highly-targeted cable networks which includes MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET and Spike TV. –