Citizens United Haters, Is This Really What You Want? John Oliver Brexit Segment Forced to Air After Vote
A lot of folks, particularly on the Left, despise the Citizens United decision that said it was unconstitutional to limit third party political speech, particularly prior to an election (even if that speech was made by nasty old corporations). The case was specifically about whether the government could prevent the airing of a third-party produced and funded documentary about one of the candidates just before an election. The Supreme Court said that the government could not put in place such limits (ie "Congress shall make no law...") but Britain has no such restrictions so we can see exactly what we would get in such a regime. Is this what you want?
As Britain gears up to vote in the EU referendum later this week, broadcasters are constantly working to ensure their coverage remains impartial. One such company is Sky, which has this week been forced to delay the latest instalment of John Oliver's Last Week Tonight HBO show. Why? Because it contains a 15-minute diatribe on why the UK should remain part of Europe.
Instead of airing the programme after Game of Thrones on Sky Atlantic on Monday night, like it does usually, Sky has pushed it back until 10:10pm on Thursday, just after the polls close. Social media users are up in arms about the decision, but in reality, Sky appears to be playing everything by the book.
Sky's decision allows it to adhere to Ofcom rules that come into effect during elections and referendums. "Sky have complied with the Ofcom broadcasting restrictions at times of elections and referendums that prohibit us showing this section of the programme at this moment in time. We will be able to show it once the polls close have closed on Thursday," a Sky spokesperson told Engadget.
In March, the regulator warned broadcasters that they'd need to take care when covering May's local elections and the subsequent Brexit vote. Section Five (which focuses on Due Impartiality) and Section Six (covering Elections and Referendums) of Ofcom's Code contain guidelines that are designed stop companies like Sky from influencing the public vote. Satirical content is allowed on UK TV networks during these times, but Oliver's delivery is very much political opinion based on facts, rather than straight humour.
By the way, the fact vs. satire distinction strikes me as particularly bizarre and arbitrary.
When will folks realize that such speech limitations are crafted by politicians to cravenly protect themselves from criticism. Take that Citizens United decision. Hillary Clinton has perhaps been most vociferous in her opposition to it, saying that if President she will appoint Supreme Court judges that will overturn it. But note the specific Citizens United case was about whether a documentary critical of .... Hillary Clinton could be aired. So Clinton is campaigning that when she takes power, she will change the Constitution so that she personally cannot be criticized. And the sheeple on the Left nod and cheer as if shielding politicians from accountability is somehow "progressive."