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Schwarzenegger Films Pulled by Sci Fi Channel

August 15, 2003|By a Times Staff Writer

Vivendi Universal's Sci Fi Channel will pull movies starring actor Arnold Schwarzenegger until after his Oct. 7 bid to become California's next governor, the channel said Thursday.

Sci Fi's move comes one day after FX, owned by News Corp., decided to take Schwarzenegger movies off the air until after the election, and as other cable channels mulled over whether they should follow suit.

At issue is the Federal Communications Commission's equal-time rule, which allows candidates to demand the same treatment given to their opponents who appear in entertainment programs on the air. Historically, the rule has applied solely to local broadcast stations. Cable officials said no candidate has ever challenged a cable channel using the rule.

But some in the industry say they are concerned that with so many candidates in the recall election, one of them could demand equal time from broadcasters that air programs featuring a political rival. Several cable channels have asked the FCC for clarification because the equal-time rule was written before cable became so widespread.

Sci Fi executives said they did not believe the FCC law applied to cable. The channel's sister network, USA, said it would not pull upcoming Schwarzenegger films, including "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," scheduled to air in September.

Sci Fi is replacing its scheduled Schwarzenegger movies with California-theme movies.

The three Schwarzenegger movies scheduled to air Aug. 24 -- "The Running Man," "Conan the Destroyer" and Terminator 2: Judgment Day" -- will be replaced by "Volcano: Fire on the Mountain," "Inferno" and "Ice," the channel said.

Schwarzenegger movies are popular cable fare and traditionally help boost ratings. Cable channels had scheduled 50 airings of Schwarzenegger movies in the next two weeks, in some cases trying to build off the actor's starring role in "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines."

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