Channel 4 is to shut down E4 on the day of the general election, denying its youth audience of shows such as The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother in an effort to encourage more young people to vote.
The stunt will see viewers tuning in on May 7 treated to a man called Darren, the guy responsible for keeping E4 on air, manning the control room in place of its regular programming. It was announced via the video below, which asks: “How many times have you missed life-changing events because you wanted to watch your favourite show? May 7 is election day and Darren is going to turn E4 off so you might as well go and vote. You won’t forget, will you Darren?”
E4’s regular schedule will be suspended from 7am, when the polls open, to 7pm, when the channel will return to normal with Hollyoaks. Polling closes at 10pm. Nothing is more important than democracy… Hollyoaks and democracy.
E4 is one of two major public service channels that currently cater specifically to a youth audience. Its rival BBC3, however, is set to move online in the Autumn, pending a decision from the BBC Trust.
Dan Brooke, Channel 4’s chief marketing and communications officer said: “Less than half of under-25s voted at the last election so we’ve engaged the most powerful weapon that we have at our disposal to try and boost that number – switching off their favourite TV channel for the day.”
The announcement follows the deadline for vote registration, which saw a record breaking 469,000 people registering online on the final day of April 20.
The E4 shutdown will be promoted across all four of Channel 4’s stable of channels, and will be accompanied by an online campaign, channel4.com/x, aimed at boosting the number of under-25s who vote. Channel 4 will also stream the first ever youth leaders’ debate next week.