The Daily Show

I have two programmes permamently set in my Sky+ organiser. Everything else comes and goes as I choose. One of those is Sky at Night which normally airs at ungodly hour on BBC1 on a monthly basis. The other programme is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
We get new episodes Tuesday to Friday at 8.30pm on More 4, the night after they’ve aired in the US on Comedy Central. To say it’s the programme to provide social commentary on the world’s only super-power is to do it a disservice. It’s an exceptional programme.
The guests are from across a broad spectrum, including politicians and authors as well as a smattering of stars, and the programme places a spotlight on things that Brits sometimes find hard to understand: The Tea Party, for example. I find it indespensible.
Case in point: Friday’s remarkable show which Stewart dedicated to the people suffering from the political games being played by the US Senate over bills, in this instance, preventing 9/11 first responders from receiving medical attention. It’s an unbelievable situation that Stewart is almost alone in pursuing including a round-table discussion with some of those literally dying of the diseases they incurred as a result of 9/11, yet are being denied money for medical fees. Simply staggering.
Channel 4, in its infinite wisdom, has decidedly to effectively can the show. It’s simply going to broadcast the “Global Edition” – a weekly “best of” highlights package. This is the programme that also used to air on CNN International (I assume it was eventually dropped when TDS made fun one too many times of CNN itself).
The savings will seemingly fund more high-end US programming including the forthcoming US version of Shameless, as well as True Stories. While the latter is to be welcomed, it’s a shame that it’s coming at the cost of one of the best programmes aired anywhere, in any genre, on UK TV.
Sadly for More 4, they’re going to lose an incredibly loyal viewer as a result. The problem is that the channel is so stuffed full of repeats of Channel 4 factual programming that I’m not interested in, that I’ll never ordinarily watch the service. While it once seemed like a great channel, budget cuts have meant that it’s slowly diminished into its current state of repeating Grand Designs and other property porn ad nauseum, along with interminable garbage like Come Dine With Me. While some superior comedies like Father Ted and Black Books get multiple airings, these are getting too long in the tooth now. And the less said about the woeful The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, in spite of its sterling cast, the better.
So The Daily Show was, for me, the only opportunity the channel had to lay out its wares – use those programme junctions to promote the channel’s odd gems. And now it’s lost that opportunity.
I’ve complained to Channel 4 of course. In response (they were quick!) they said that while they too knew it’s a great programme, it “hasn’t resonated with the audience.” I fear that this is more a shortcoming of BARB – the TV ratings mechanism – than a reflection of actual audiences.
FX similarly dropped The Colbert Report when it became too expensive a couple of years ago – and this is very much about cash.
An opportunity arises for another channel to bring this programme to UK audiences. But otherwise it’ll be the internet or places like iTunes (even though it currently doesn’t have the latest exceptional edition at time of writing).
A sad day.
[UPDATE] As mentioned in the comments on the Media Guardian piece, state owned ABC will stop showing Stewart and Colbert next year. They’ve been outbid by pay-TV channel Foxtel. Foxtel is of course, a Murdoch company. No. 1 target of Stewart/Colbert? Fox News – a Murdoch company. I wonder if Sky in the UK will purchase the rights?

4 Comments

  1. This is really, really disappointing (though I can see the latest episode on iTunes – possibly one of the best ever, a showcase of who on TV is the real patriot; when searching they show out of order).
    What are the odds of a 6music-esque campaign? There’s not as many of us loyal viewers of the show as there were 6music listeners, but I think we’re every bit as passionate. Admittedly C4 hasn’t the same obligations as BBC either, but some way of being vocal may convince another broadcaster to serve us. We can but hope.

  2. I suspect that it’s purely and simply a question of cash. The ratings for a programme like The Daily Show will never be massive.
    And there are suggestions that it’s coming off ABC in Australia, which might suggest that parent company Viacom has hiked the price.
    All this notwithstanding, More 4 essentially loses me as a viewer as a result of this.
    Smart money might be on the forthcoming Sky Atlantic picking up this show, but I won’t hold my breath. And obviously that’d be on a pay channel rather than free-to-air.

  3. Adam I too am very annoyed that TDS has been removed. This is pretty much the only thing I watched on More4. As you mentioned, the 9/11 Responders Episode alone was worth keeping the show – the global edition will not do justice to the satirical commentary.
    Interesting though that “FoxTel” have brought it – just goes to show that despite what some Fox “News” fans will tell you – Murdoch it seems does have a sense of humour when it comes to money at the very least.
    Each epised can be downloaded from iTunes but this is at £1.89 a pop, and that will get expensive after a while. Hopefully someone else will take it.

  4. Hi Emma,
    TDS has just returned on Comedy Central in the US, and from what I can see, we have no takers in the UK.
    You’re right that at £1.89 a pop it is expensive. That said, if you pay for 15 episodes at once, the price drops to about 67p each – and I guess that’s the better part of 4 weeks’ worth, so not a terrible deal.
    My main problem with going down the iTunes route is that I can’t easily get the video onto my TV. Yes, I could watch on my iPod Touch, but that’s not as nice when I have a perfectly good sofa and television combo!
    Sky has just announced the line-up for Sky Atlantic. Wouldn’t The Daily Show and Colbert Report fit nicely there? Yes, they both take aim at Fox News quite a lot, but as you say, FoxTel in Australia has the show.

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