UK’s Sky Atlantic Preempts Last Week Tonight’s Brexit Episode Until After Vote
(via The Hollywood Reporter)
The “non-existent” John Oliver Effect comes into play yet again?
In accordance with laws in the UK of staying impartial and balanced on television during times of election and referendums, Sky Atlantic, who normally airs the latest episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on Mondays, opted to delay the airing of this past week’s episode because its deep dive segment on the upcoming vote of whether Great Britain should leave the European Union or not, otherwise known as the “Brexit”.
Oliver lays out, with jokes and a catchy song of course, a comprehensive breakdown of why his homeland shouldn’t leave. Watch it here.
This highlights an intriguing contrast in censorship when it comes to joking about politics between the UK and the U.S. and, perhaps, how valued John Oliver’s words really are.
There are laws for networks for giving equal air time to presidential candidates in the interest of staying “fair and balanced” in this country (even though no network seems to be really following those rules this year). However, bits of comedy aren’t really subject to such limits.
In 2015-2016, you can clearly see comedy in TV and across the media landscape that jokes about Trump far outnumber jokes about other candidates as well as any other topic. Whether or not comedians joking about Trump has anything to do with the notion that the media creating the presidential candidate version of Trump is hard to say, but they are part of the aggregate media obsession with the candidate.
Yet, as suggested above, the UK is taking a much different, more strict approach that goes beyond giving equal air time to opposing views of an issue. Sky Atlantic is delaying a bit of comedy about the Brexit by an established comedian, John Oliver, under the notion that people’s vote might be swayed. Trying to quantify how much Oliver would potentially influence voters would be hard to gauge given all the other campaigning for and against the Brexit that has been going on. Overall, this seems like a form of censorship that is perhaps overstepping its bounds, but one should note that freedom of speech isn’t quite the same in the UK as it is over here.
The vote for the Brexit is this week. Thanks to the Internet, we’re sure folks in the UK will get to see the segment if they really want to and the existence of a “John Oliver Effect” will still be up for debate.