Written by Media, TV

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?