General News

Networks Hold Off Airing Schwarzenegger Movies

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Aug 13, 2003 | 9:20am EDT

Broadcast television will have to give up Arnold Schwarzenegger movies--including The Terminator, Total Recall and even Kindergarten Cop--at least for the time being.

Federal rules require local TV stations to provide equal air time to all candidates running for office free of charge. That means if one of Schwarzenegger's films plays on TV during his run for governor of California in the recall election Oct. 7, the nearly 250 other opponents could demand the same amount of time, Reuters reports.

Schwarzenegger's advisors alerted reporters at a recent press conference that the Federal Communications Commission rules were in effect. Officials for television networks NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox all said they had no plans to broadcast any the Republican actor's films on their networks in the near future, Reuters reports.

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst and senior scholar at the University of Southern California, told Reuters she believed there's a good reason why Schwarzenegger's campaign made a point of reminding the media of the equal-time rules.

"Everybody knows Arnold for what he is, but my sense is that they're a little bit shy about reminding people of that image in the throes of a campaign in which he's trying to come across as a valid candidate for governor," she said.

"I also think it may well have to do with the fact that they don't want anybody else to be able to demand time from the television station for free," Jeffe added.

Cable TV industry executives, however, were trying to figure out exactly how to proceed with the mandate because the rules in their arena were less clear.

Cable TV networks like HBO and TNT that provide programs are exempt, while cable TV operators--companies such as Cox Communications Inc.--which deliver the channels to homes appear not to be, industry executives told Reuters.

"Across the broadcast and cable industry, a lot of people are looking at it. I think that it would behoove us to try not to do any Arnold (movie) marathons because it may beg a competitor to file a complaint that its unfair," said one cable executive who asked to remain anonymous.

Still, several cable operators on Tuesday said they believed that they were indeed exempt from the FCC equal time rules.

"Cable and broadcast are not under the same rules. We are not required to block out any signals if it is coming from one of our programming partners," Bobby Amirshahi, a spokesman for Cox, told Reuters.

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