1987 – while I was with Granada at Aylesbury, we worked closely on the provision of satellite services to bookmakers, and it became clear that there was an opportunity here.
I set up Vista Satellite to exploit it. We got a European agency for Norsat, a Canadian system, the first private satellite receivers.
Astra and Sky were still some way off in the future. The opportunity was in SMATV, Satellite Master Antenna Television – providing a large dish and local cable to hotel rooms, apartments or a development. The pictures above are of Brighton Marina and of the trailer I towed around everywhere.
We got close to the Marriott Hotels and installed CNN, Premier and Screen Sport for them. We got into movie systems for their rooms too.
But much of the fun of Vista was trying to raise cash to launch ourselves properly. A guy flew in from Arizona trying to set some business up and convinced me that with him and another we stood more of a chance. He turned out to be a man-of-straw, but he introduced me to Geoff Morrow. Geoff is the songwriter who was behind Guys ‘n’ Dolls, having written ‘There’s a Whole Lot of Loving’. He also penned ‘Can’t Smile Without You’, Barry Manilow’s signature song, even wrote several for Elvis!
Geoff was trying to raise cash for a middle-of-the-road album recording company on the basis of a ROW arrangement he had with Ahmet Ertegün and Atlantic Records. Geoff and I got together as Vista plc, with Bruce Johnston, a Beach Boy, and the UK singer Frankie Vaughan both on our Board – and we raised the cash we needed on 17th October 1987.
17th October 1987 was Black Monday – the day we were ensconced in Lincoln’s Inn finalising our private placement while the financial world outside was collapsing – our shares had all been pre-subscribed and rose in value on that fateful day from 5p to 12p!
However satellite services rapidly became a big-boys business and Geoff never really signed anyone of note – so it all fizzled out.