EastEndersfans in New York have been told to come up with $29,000 (£15,465) by the end of January in order to save the BBC soap from being axed from a local public television station.
EastEndersfans in New York have been told to come up with $29,000 (£15,465) by the end of January in order to save the BBC soap from being axed from a local public television station.

The New York station WLIW, which has broadcast EastEnderssince 1996, is due to stop showing the soap by the end of February because it says it is underperforming compared to other shows.

However, furious fans have started a campaign to keep the show on air and have been told by station programme manager Joe Campbell that if they can come up with the $29,000 acquisition fee then the show will stay.

Fans are now calling on loyal viewers to send in $50 or $100 and are contacting famous EastEndersfans such as David Bowie, Whoopi Goldberg and Elton John to back their campaign. If the money isn't raised, campaign organiser Larry Jaffee said cheques would be returned to people.

Campbell said EastEnderswas the station's most expensive acquisition and could no longer be justified. "WLIW has broadcast EastEndersfor over five years," he said. "During that time, the series has developed a very loyal, but very small audience. Over the years, WLIW has tried a number of strategies to encourage these viewers to support the programme, but unfortunately these efforts have not been successful.

"Since EastEndersis the single most expensive acquisition we make, we can simply no longer afford to subsidise the programme with dollars contributed by other members. As a result, we will not be renewing our contract with the BBC when it expires.

"An independent effort is being made to raise the $29,000 needed to acquire the programme for 2005. Should they raise the money by the end of January, we will reverse our decision."

In September 2003, the BBC's commercial US channel BBC America was flooded with complaints following its decision to drop the soap. The decision led loyal followers to embark on a huge campaign to save it, including a petition that gathered nearly 10,000 names, although it was not enough to save the show.