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Last Updated: Monday, 21 July, 2003, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Israeli station plans homegrown sounds
Dana International
Dana International is Israel's most famous recent musical export
An Israeli music TV station has taken to the air, promising a playlist featuring only homegrown music.

Tel Aviv-based Music 24 is competing with Western hits on the European version of MTV, which is carried by cable networks in the country.

It kicked off its programming on Sunday with alternative singer-songwriter Ramin Fortis performing his 1970s punk hit Get Off My TV Screen.

There are few outlets for homegrown music in Israel, and chief executive Guy Bahar told Israeli newspaper Haaretz the station had 1,500 clips - most of which had languished on record companies' shelves because there had been nowhere to play them.

But with the country's economy worn down by three years of fighting with the Palestinians, chief editor Yoav Kutner said the station would run to a tight budget.

"We won't have programmes, hosts, or any big stars or anything that would be very expensive," he said.

Crossing fingers

Mr Kutner said he would programme a wide variety of Israeli music, adding "all those for whom Israeli music is important are crossing their fingers for us".

But the channel has not had a warm welcome from all of the Israeli music industry - critic Gal Ohovski said the decision to exclude acts from outside Israel "smacks of provincialism".

While Israel's population is less than seven million, there are hundreds of acts performing in many styles, reflecting the diverse origins of the Israeli population.

In the past, there have been tensions between fans of Western-style pop music, and those who listen to a Middle Eastern style, which borrows heavily from Arabic music.

Fans of the latter say they have been discriminated against by Israeli broadcasters.

Few Israeli acts have broken through into international success, with the country's most famous musical export of music years being transsexual singer Dana International, who won the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest with her track Diva.

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