On-Air Highlights

Britcoms to get viewer input

Written by witf.org, | Jul 22, 2014 9:23 AM
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“Waiting for God”

For many viewers of WITF and other PBS stations across the country, Saturday night is home to British comedies — or “Britcoms” for short.

While the Britcoms still can be found in WITF’s schedule, the number of programs has dropped to two episodes a week. This change came about because it was perceived that enough was enough. There is interest in a whole variety of other Britcoms — “Are You Being Served?,” “As Time Goes By,” “Last of the Summer Wine,” and the list goes on.

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“Are You Being Served?”

Currently “Waiting for God” is airing. This program’s original run came about in the early ’90s with 45 episodes. At the time of this article’s printing, “Waiting for God” is the only Britcom on WITF’s schedule, but we’ve heard you want more. One of the challenges, of course, is the expense of these programs.

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“As Time Goes By”

Britcoms are aired on WITF through direct syndication with the BBC. These programs are not included with the normal program dues paid to PBS. Here is how syndication works in the public television universe: WITF acquires a series by signing a contract for a particular show for a season. The station is granted a certain amount of times that it can air an episode (typically twice) during the course of the contract (typically two years). The more shows WITF syndicates simultaneously, the more expensive it gets.

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"Last of the Summer Wine"

We want to keep the laughs coming, but your help is needed. Beginning in mid-August, WITF will begin a new campaign for Britcoms called “Mind the Brit- Com Classics.” This campaign will fund the comedies that WITF viewers appreciate. Which show will replace “Waiting for God” on WITF’s schedule? Tune in to WITF on Aug. 9 to find out.

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Comments: 2

  • Sharon Sablosky Meyers img 2014-08-25 11:30

    It's amazing that WMPT in Maryland has been showing British comedies not only the whole evening on Saturday nights, but every afternoon from 1:30-4:00 has Tea Time and shows "As Time Goes by," "Keeping Up Appearances," "Last of the Summer Wine," "Are You Being Served," "Bally Kisangel," etc. for years and never has a problem with time limitations on contracts. When I moved to Harrisburg 4 years ago, I was very disappointed in the amount of British comedies that were provided to the Harrisburg public on WITF. I've written to Verizon numerous times to add WMPT to its lineup so I can enjoy their shows. After all we are only 50 miles away from Frederick County, MD. I would even be willing to pay an extra fee to Verizon so I could watch my favorite programs.

    I also don't like the idea of having Sesame Street on at 7:00 p.m. in the evening. That's the time of night that little ones are being readied for bed and time that should be used to be read toby their parents. Parent's work all day and need adult programming on after 6:00 p.m., not Sesame Street.

    • Fred Vigeant img 2014-08-26 15:48

      Sharon,

      Thanks for watching WITF. Maryland Public Television has a very different funding foundation as well as a unique program schedule from WITF. MPT has been an independent agency of the State of Maryland since its 1969 establishment. Approximately one-third of the MPT budget comes from state money. In 2009, Pennsylvania eliminated all state funding to all eight public television stations in the Commonwealth. Public media stations in Pennsylvania currently receive $0 in state support.

      Regarding their program schedule, a large portion of the coverage area for MPT overlaps with other public TV stations like WHYY in Philadelphia, WETA in Washington, and even WITF. Because of this overlap, MPT is able to (and actually needs to) offer different programs from its peers – and because of that funding model I mentioned, they are able to focus their programming budget to acquire more seasons and more variety of the britcoms you mention.

      It’s not that WITF can’t do that as well, we simply don’t have the capacity of funding to support the large fees associated with acquiring each series to air simultaneously. Currently we acquire additional rights to broadcast: Doc Martin (two seasons), Death in Paradise (two seasons), Father Brown (one season), Last of the Summer Wine (five seasons), Waiting for God (the entire series), and Moone Boy (one season). In fact, some good news for you! During this fiscal year, WITF will spend more money on acquisitions than we have in the past few years in order to provide you with the programs we know you enjoy. That’s because viewers like you have stepped up to support additional programming so that WITF can continue to acquire and broadcast more of your favorites.

      The promising news here is that you can help. You, and every person who values public television and radio, can help by making your voice heard to our lawmakers to restore support and station funding. Ask your State Senator and State Representative to support the effort to restore public station funding in Pennsylvania. Ask the Governor to do the same.

      Fred