Some Nets Pull Pics Until After Election

Aug 18, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Let’s get the puns out of the way.
Sci Fi Channel has terminated future Schwarzenegger airings. FX has issued a total recall on all Arnold pics. HBO, USA and Turner say the Schwarzenegger ban is a raw deal and pledged to continue showing the running man’s movies.
Such were the verdicts last week after the National Association of Broadcasters issued an alert to California stations, warning that screening the gubernatorial candidate’s movies could trigger the Federal Communications Commission’s equal-time requirement. Stations that violated the rule could be forced to give free airtime to the other candidates in California’s recall election-all 135 of them.
But the FCC rule applies only to over-the-air broadcast networks, not national cable networks. So why would any network pull its films?
“I’ve heard any number of things. There seems to be a lot of gray in [the rules],” said a representative of an affected network. “Our legal affairs department made the decision.”
Sci Fi, which reportedly pulled the films out of “deference to the electoral process,” substituted movies that are set in California, such as “Volcano: Fire on the Mountain.”
Still, some in the industry took aim at Sci Fi and FX for being so quick to change their programming.
“I think they’re both lame for doing it,” said one network spokesperson. “But I think Sci Fi is less lame because they at least came up with something innovative.”
FX spokesman John Solberg said their Schwarzenegger movies were nearly finished airing anyway.
“We had windows on two Schwarzenegger films-`Eraser’ and `Predator,”’ he said. “We’re going to pull them until after the election. Both had already had their primary runs and only had three -to four plays left.”
HBO, however, was one of the first networks to declare it wasn’t going to budge.
“We do have a couple of his movies running, but we are exempt from the equal-time situation because we’re a national service,” a spokesperson said.
USA Networks, which will continue showing Schwarzenegger movies despite sharing the same corporate parent as Sci Fi, has a bevy of films by the actor-cum-politician-“Total Recall,” “Terminator 2,” “Junior” and “Raw Deal” are all scheduled for September.