Monday, April 13, 2009

My Letter to HGTV

I just thought I'd share the letter I wrote to the Scripps Execs today (Parent Company over HGTV and DIY Network). I also sent off several emails to their Garden-related Advertisers. Sears, surprisingly actually seems to have "read" my email and sent a response that they would fwd my letter to their Advertising Dept. The only other replies I've gotten are "Auto-Responders."

I do remain "guardedly optimistic" however. Maybe, just maybe, our letter-writing campaign will work!

I have been a long-time fan of HGTV/DIY/Scripp's Networks. Seriously - to the point where HGTV was tuned in almost the entire time that my TV was on.

But, over time, I'm finding myself watching HGTV/DIY less-and-less. The main reason? Lack of Garden Programming.

I'd always thoroughly enjoyed your weekend-morning line-up with all of the Gardening and Landscaping Shows. It was my Weekly Ritual: I'd pour myself a cup of coffee, settle into the recliner with my remote-control, and watch a good hour (or more) of Garden and Landscaping programs. It always got me "motivated" to get outside and "Get it done!"

My All-Time Favorite? Paul James' "Gardening By the Yard."

But over the past several years, you've shuffled the weekend line-up around and virtually eliminated Paul James (Sorry, I don't consider 4:00am, Pacific, to be a viable time-slot). I don't even know what you ARE airing on weekend mornings anymore - I don't bother turning the TV on (or when I do - it's NOT tuned to HGTV).

Now, I've also heard that Paul's contract has NOT been renewed. Yes, you are now airing the "final season" now (2008 episodes), But when I heard that GBTY is no longer going to be featured on your network, I was devastated. I still am! That was THE most informative, most enjoyable Garden Show I have ever seen! I think cancelling it is a HUGE mistake (And no, airing re-runs does NOT count!).

I had written to HGTV, in the past, about the slow-death of the "G" in HGTV - and only gotten a "canned" response telling me, essentially, that "HGTV values viewer feedback" (or words to that effect). Yet there was no change in the weekend line-up.

I wonder - Do you really value Viewer Feedback? Are you truly listening?

The Latest Trend right now is to go "Back to Basics." The popularity of Vegetable Gardening is at an all-time high. Even Michelle Obama is "in on the action" (and, in fact, "Leading the Way" for the Next Generation of Gardeners), by planting the first Vegetable Garden on the White House Grounds in generations! The economy is "in the tank" right now, and people are looking for ways to cut back on spending. And "Organic" (Read: "Green!") is all the rage. What better way to bring healthful food to your dinner table than to grow it yourself?

Let me say that again, for emphasis: The popularity of Vegetable Gardening is at an All-Time High - and HGTV/DIY's response is to cancel the last Quality Garden Show...

It just doesn't make any sense!

Oh, and I do want to make one point for clarification: There is a difference between "Gardening" and "Landscaping" Shows. This is an important distinction.

  • "Gardening" is all about the ongoing care and maintenance of plants. That can mean flowers and trees; fruits and vegetables; composting; mulching; pest- and disease-control; and everything in-between. It can be a very economical Hobby (for many, it's a Passion!). And it certainly can be very "Green" (both figuratively and literally). Paul James focuses on "Gardening."
  • Whereas "Landscaping" is bringing in backhoes, and truckloads of dirt, gravel and rocks. Oh, and plants, too. It's the "Instant Gratification/Backyard Makeover" that costs thousands of dollars and may (or in most cases, may NOT) last a Season or two. Ahmed Hassan is more "Landscaping." (Love "Yard Crashers" - just the same!).

We definitely need more of the former. If not Paul James (although he is, by far, The Best!), then someone "Younger and Perkier" - but it must be REALISTIC and PRACTICAL, too. *That's* what I love about Paul James - he gets down, gets dirty, and shows us how it's done in an entertaining, amusing, educational and realistic way!

* * * * *

There seems to be a belief that Gardeners are "too old" and that Garden Shows don't cater to your "Under-35 Target Demographic." I beg to differ. I have been gardening for more years than I care to recall (BTW, I am in the "35-45 Demographic"). I know I started well before I turned 35.

I'm also fairly active in our local Gardening Community and attend numerous events throughout the year. I observed that at least half of the attendees at a recent (City-sponsored) Composting Workshop were in their mid-30's and younger.

Here's another interesting detail: Even though I'm not in your Target Demographic, I've been known to spend a surprising amount of money on my Gardening Habit. Not only at local "Family-run" Nurseries (Love to support "The Local Guy!"), but also Home Depot; Lowe's; Sears (our Rototiller = Craftsman); Troy-Bilt (Lawnmower); And that's just to name a few. Along those lines, I will be contacting many of your Advertisers and letting them know how much I miss the "G" in HGTV. If simple letter-writing won't work, then perhaps my spending habits can help drive the point home...

Please reconsider your decision to cancel Paul James' contract. And please, please, please bring back more Quality Garden Programming (in a viewable time-slot!)

Thank you.

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