Dr. Mehmet Oz’s announcement that he is running for the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat means his talk show will be off the air in several major TV markets.
A representative for Fox Television Stations said Tuesday that “Dr. Oz” has been pulled from its stations in the New York and Philadelphia markets now that the celebrity surgeon has made his candidacy official. Other stations that reach Pennsylvania TV households are likely to at least temporarily drop the program as well.
The decision to pull the program is necessitated by the FCC’s equal time provision for broadcast TV stations. If a declared candidate for political office is given free airtime on a TV station, the same opportunity has to be given to other contenders.
Observing that rule would be a logistical nightmare for TV stations that run “Dr. Oz,” a daily hourlong talk show syndicated across the country by Sony Pictures Television. The most likely option for TV stations is to replace the show with other programming during the campaign.
David D. Oxenford, an attorney who specializes in broadcast and digital media law, noted that stations had to adjust programming in previous races involving TV and movie performers.
Oxenford noted that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s films were kept off the air in California during his runs for governor in 2003 and 2007. When actor Fred Grandy ran for Congress, repeats of “The Love Boat,” the network hit he starred in for years, could not run on TV stations that reached his Iowa district.
Ronald Reagan’s movies were also kept off TV during his presidential campaigns.
Sony has a long-term plan if Oz wins the Republican nomination and spends 2022 running in the general election. Starting in mid-January, Oz’s daughter Daphne — a chef, author and TV personality — is slated to take over Oz’s time periods with a program called “The Good Dish,” according to two people familiar with the plan.
“The Good Dish” would replace “Dr. Oz” for at least the rest of the 2021-22 TV season, said one person who does business with TV stations that carry “Dr. Oz.” A representative for Sony Pictures Television had no comment on its plans. Daphne Oz is a judge on the Fox reality series “MasterChef Junior” and was a co-host on the ABC daytime series “The Chew.”
“Dr. Oz” premiered in 2009, after Oz raised his public profile as a regular on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Last year, the program was renewed through the 2022-23 TV season.
Oz, 61, has never previously run for political office. He has raised his political profile over the last two years with appearances on Fox News, where he discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and drew criticism for his comments.
Oz has been critical of government policies dealing with the pandemic and said it’s what prompted him to run for the seat being vacated by Republican Pat Toomey, who is retiring. His initial campaign statements appear to be targeting conservative voters.
“We are angry at our government and at each other,” Oz said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “We have not managed our crises as effectively as past generations. During the pandemic, I learned that when you mix politics and medicine, you get politics instead of solutions.”
While Oz is running as a Republican, over the years he has made contributions to candidates of both major parties.
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