Why was Last Week Tonight with John Oliver postponed until Thursday?


Anyone who’s a fan of the sharply witty and extremely intelligent debate we see on Sky Atlantic’s ‘Last Week with John Oliver’ will, like me, have been a little baffled to have been deprived of this week’s show - that’s season 3, episode 16 that should’ve aired on 20 June - when it failed to do so after ‘Game of Thrones’ and its subsequent ‘Thronecast’ discussion show.

Like many of you, I scrambled around my Sky box having the show on series record, but there was no trace. It was even more strange because since airing some hours earlier in the US, Oilver’s 15-minute segment on the EU Referendum - that’s the big vote taking place in the UK this Thursday on whether Britain should remain in or leave the European Union - had gone viral and was trending on Facebook and Twitter. The video, uploaded to YouTube, was in plain, accessible sight for anyone who wanted it, yet all evidence had been removed from Sky’s menus besides a single future recording date of 23 June, that’s this Thursday, at 11.45pm - once the polling stations had closed here in the UK.

I shared my query on Twitter, as did a number of others, to which responses were either outrage directed at Sky owner Rupert Murdoch for what appeared to be selective sensorship or from those who claimed it was nothing to do with the media mogul’s influence.


It seemed odd why this would’ve suddenly been pulled but then it appeared to make some sort of sense. Being the sceptic that I am, it appeared Murdoch had pulled the show with its pro-EU agenda, considering his anti-EU, pro-Brexit stance, which, let’s face it, is clear for all to see. Not only are two out of three of his national newspapers (The Sun and The Sunday Times) trying to persuade their readers to vote Leave, but let’s remind ourselves of this rather self-explanatory quote that emerged through the Evening Standard some time ago, but has since been doing the rounds…


It’s a helluva scary thought when you consider this individual owns some of the country’s most-read papers, as well as Sky, and just how easy it is to voice his opinion and, in the case of The Sun’s overt Leave the EU campaign this week, his own political agenda.

But I digress. Aside from what I believed to be a fairly personally motivated decision - regardless of some noting that Murdoch doesn’t dictate scheduling - he’s still the man at the top essentially operating as the all-powerful billionaire puppeteer.

Yet when Sky were directly asked, surprisingly they replied promptly that it was to do with Ofcom regulations, which now claim the programme will air at 10.10pm…


And, true to form, the regulations do state strict rules over what politically-led content can and cannot be aired on certain programmes, as per this chunk of Ofcom guidelines explain…


So the official reason is due to the lack of impartiality of Oliver’s critique on the Leave campaign, but just in case you hadn’t seen the actual footage yet, check out what the British comedian had to say…

Some could argue that Oliver is doing satire, so does it count as straight-up, political debate? Secondly, he kind of addresses the opposition’s point of view (in a manner of speaking), but ultimately there’s little leeway when it comes to breaching Ofcom’s handbook of dos and don’ts.

Do you agree the show should have been rescheduled for impartiality or are you understanding of Sky’s decision in regards to Ofcom’s rules? Let us know in the comments below…

‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’ is on this week on Thursday, 23 June at 10.10pm; returning to its more familiar slot next Monday, 27 June at 11.20pm.

Mike P Williams is a freelance TV, film and entertainment writer, with an obsession for all things Game of Thrones, Jurassic Park and Pixar. Over the years he’s written for the likes of MTV, Total Film, BuzzFeed, and Yahoo Movies UK.

Picture credits: Twitter, Ofcom, Indy 100, HBO

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