Sunday, September 28, 2003

Prefatory note.

The following is a rambling diatribe.

BBC America: The dregs of the high-brows.

My Saturday afternoons have now been freed up thanks to cartel of imbeciles who run BBC America. I got word that they've finally done what I've been expecting them to do for over a year, cancel EastEnders. They've been whining about low ratings since summer of last year, and it's no surprise the show is low rated since they only air it in an interminable two and half hour chunk. But yet they repeat everything else on the channel endlessly. They've got five episodes of The Office and they must've have shown them a hundred or more times apiece. I'm exaggerating, but not by much. Virtually every time I turn to BBC America, they're showing something I've already seen--and I don't even watch the damn channel that much.

Maybe EastEnders would've been a little more successful if instead of one two and a half hour showing (which even I find hard to take at times) they showed individual episodes during the week. Promoting it would probably have helped. But showing EastEnders during the week would've cut into the nine or ten hours a day they show Changing Rooms and Ground Force. And don't think we EastEnders fans didn't suggest that BBC America show the program in a more reasonable manner. We sent emails, we complained on the message-boards, we signed a petition, and someone even set up a protest site. BBC America responded by threatening legal action against the protest site owner for trademark infringement, censored our postings on the message-bords [scroll down], and ignored our suggestions about implementing a more reasonable schedule that wasn't filled with repeats of the same two or three programs.

We had a small reprieve. Maybe we saved EastEnders for almost a year longer, but I knew BBC America hated the program and wanted an excuse to cancel it.

Meanwhile, I'll be reduced to watching two episodes a week from 1999 on a local PBS channel, but who knows for how much longer. According the EastEnders fan site Walford Gazette, there's only 16 PBS stations left in the US that show it anymore. Ultimately the demise of EastEnders in the US won't be the fault of the morons who run the BBC America, but the morons who run the BBC in the UK who are pricing the show out of the budgets of most PBS stations. If they'd reduce the price of the show then more stations would show it, therefore the BBC would make more money. Why can't they grasp this? It may be the most popular TV show in history the UK has ever seen, but outside the UK, particularly in the US, it's a cult program and should be priced accordingly. But the BBC seems to be under the impression that if it's a huge hit in the UK then it should be generating enormous amounts of cash everywhere. Why can't they seem to understand that PBS stations get much of their funding from viewer donations?

I'm ranting and rambling, I know, and I've drifted away from my utter hatred of all things BBC America to an attack on the BBC who I don't hate (that much). Be patient with me, I'm really pissed off.

BBC America could've been great. People like me ("cultured", smarty pants types) have enjoyed British TV shows on PBS for years and years. We've wished we had a channel that showed the kind of programs we liked 24 hours a day. BBC America could've been that channel. Most television networks in the US are aimed at the lowest common denominator; BBC America seems to be satisfied with aiming at the lowest common denomenator of the "cultured", smarty pants types: the dregs of the high-brows.

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