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Stations terminate Schwarzenegger programming

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Stations terminate Schwarzenegger programming

  • In a move to deflect potential complaints from the more than 100 candidates in the state’s gubernatorial recall election, several cable networks have pulled movies featuring actor Arnold Schwarzenegger from their lineups.

Aug. 15, 2003 — Weary of the potential onslaught of complaints to the Federal Communications Commission, several cable networks have announced that they will not show movies featuring California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger during the election period.

The equal time provision of the Communications Act requires radio and television stations and cable systems that originate their own programming to treat legally qualified political candidates equally when it comes to selling or giving away air time. In other words, a station that sells or gives one minute to one candidate must sell or give the same amount of time with the same audience potential to all other candidates for the particular office.

In California, that means a lot of other candidates. Schwarzenegger is one of 135 individuals vying for governor in the state’s recall election scheduled for Oct. 7, which could unseat current Gov. Gray Davis.

The regulation, sometimes called the “Bedtime for Bonzo” rule because of its application to the 1966 gubernatorial race, which former actor Ronald Reagan won, does not apply to news programming.

According to a Reuters report, the Sci Fi channel, owned by Vivendi Universal has cancelled a planned Schwarzenegger marathon. Earlier this week, FX, owned by News Corp., said it planned to pull Schwarzenegger movies as well. TNT and Turner South said they were proceeding with plans to air “Red Sonja” and “The Terminator” this month.

It is not clear whether stations are pulling programming featuring another candidate in the race — former child star Gary Coleman.


© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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