Hopefully, every complaint sent in to Channel 4 regarding its
scatty scheduling of this year’s Tour de France is registering. But the replies from
the viewer enquiries office aren’t encouraging, every complainant is getting the
same pat reply. But, to get your own back here’s a standard hard-hitting letter you
can copy and email to Channel 4 yourself
Bikebiz.co.uk readers have been copying us with the replies sent by the viewer enquiry
service of Channel 4. At the beginning of the week, Grant Allen, MD of Giant was
the first to forward us this reply and we subsequently received many others. All
of them were word-for-word the same.
The arguments don’t really hold water but, here, make your own mind up:
“We’re sorry to have disappointed Tour De France viewers by placing some of
the shows late night. In the main, this is because of the addition of a
large amount of Test and One Day Cricket to the schedule. Given that we are a general
channel, we have to make sure the addition of many more hours devoted to sport does
not impact too much on the overall balance of
programming genres during peak hours and that we do not alienate the
non-sports loving audience. Whilst the Tour De France has a loyal following
of almost one million viewers, many of our peak programmes achieve double that figure.
We would therefore be disappointing many more viewers if we dropped the other programmes
to accommodate the Tour.
“This is also the reason why we have moved the weekday shows to 5.30pm. We have
built up a large audience of young people for our 6-7pm slots and they too would
be very upset if we dropped their favourite programmes.
“In short, we have reached a compromise that will not please everyone, but
which we feel strikes the right balance within our schedule. Once again, we
are sorry to disappoint the Tour’s loyal fans, but hope that the quality of
the coverage still meets with your approval.”
However, check the schedules for the past ten days, there has been a lot of dross
programmes put out in much better viewing slots than the Tour de France coverage.
It wouldn’t be so bad if Channel 4 had picked a time and then stuck to it. One of
the most annoying factors in this year’s scheduling is its randomness.
And the fact that extra programmes were slotted in for a couple of days after the
prologue – because of the success of David Millar, a Scot – shows that Channel 4
schedulers got it wrong from the start.
You’ll just get a standard reply but don’t let that stop you registering your complaint
if you haven’t already done so. Here’s the email address.
And, if you want to be lazy, just like Channel 4, here’s a standard complaint letter
you’re free to cut-and-paste and use as your own. Rather than playing the ‘I’m a
cyclist and I’m disgusted’ card, it tells Channel 4 that it has alienated some key
upmarket viewers. That’s the sort of thing that loses them advertisers so will hurt
more than complaining as a cyclist.
I would like to add my voice to the frustration that is building
regarding the erratic coverage of the Tour de France. Whilst I applaud C4 for your
trail blazing past achievements, you are doing yourself no favours at present. The
Tour de France programme is loved by Francophiles as well as cyclists and much of
the AB1 audience attracted to your coverage in previous years – most of whom are
not cycling fans as such – will now be migrating to the coverage on the internet
Losing a previously loyal set of viewers like this is a cardinal sin in an age of
increasingly fragmenting TV audiences. For an upscale minority channel such as yourself,
it’s quality that counts not quantity and you’ve just alienated a great many upmarket
viewers. Your advertisers cannot be best pleased about this.
VTV’s 14 year coverage of the Tour de France is the third oldest TV programme on
Channel 4 after Countdown and Brookside. You wouldn’t mess with these two ‘anchor’
programmes so why mess with the Tour de France? I hope you realise your scheduling
error and, next year, put the Tour back where it belongs: primetime.