January 29 2007

Now that’s dedication

Interesting article about a group of EastEnders fans in the Washington D.C. area that rallied to save their favorite British soap. Their local PBS channel, WETA, had informed their viewers they were going to be dropping the long-running BBC soap opera from the line-up due to the cost vs. ratings. It seems the show costs the channel $25,000 a year, with a 2 year minimum. With only 8,000 households tuning in weekly, and the contract coming up, they opted not to spend the $50,000 required to renew.

Enter the fans.

Led by a classics professor and a real estate lawyer, the fans asked if they raised the money, would the channel accept the funds and renew? The channel said they would if they got the funds by January 16th, 2007. The fans went to work and gathered up 143 checks, totaling $52,504 (or ab average of $367.16 per check), and presented them to the station by the deadline. The channel was good to their word, accepted the funds and have renewed the much-loved show.

I have seen a lot of fan drives over the years to save a show, but never one that took such a direct approach, and I applaud them. I’ve heard of buying newspaper ads, mailing in small trinket that is an inside joke from the show, those never seemed to make much sense to me. Cold hard cash? Total sense. Good on them, and I hope they enjoy their two years of British drama, they’ve earned it.

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