LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "The Running Man" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger will not be running any time soon on Sci Fi channel.
The cable TV network said on Thursday it was pulling an entire night of Schwarzenegger programming featuring three of his films including "Running Man" and "Conan The Destroyer" on Aug. 24, becoming the second cable network in two days to take his movies off air.
Schwarzenegger is one of 135 candidates running for governor of California in a recall election scheduled for Oct. 7.
Sci Fi, owned by Vivendi Universal, will instead offer viewers a slate of California-themed disaster movies.
"We're pulling our Arnold marathon in deference to the electoral process. We wanted to level the playing field in California," said Kat Stein, a spokeswoman for Sci Fi.
One day earlier, FX, owned by News Corp., said it had decided to pull Schwarzenegger flicks from its line-up until after the political situation was resolved.
The cable networks are taking the steps proactively, since under current law they are exempt from Federal Communication Commission rules requiring broadcasters to give equal air time to all candidates, free of charge, if they air entertainment programming featuring a political rival.
If films like "The Terminator," "Total Recall" or even "Kindergarten Cop" air on broadcast TV, all of the 134 other opponents in California's unprecedented recall election race could demand equal time for free.
An FCC (news - web sites) source said the commission had received a record number of calls from lawyers for cable channels in recent days regarding California's recall election and ambiguities in the law regarding airtime and candidate appearances.
While rules exempt cable networks, they don't prevent political opponents of Schwarzenegger from filing complaints with the FCC, which could prompt the commission to revisit the rules, said the source who asked to remain anonymous.
"They are very skittish. They're pulling the films so that they don't even have to worry about it," the source said. "If a person wanted equal time and filed a complaint with us ... we'd have to handle the decision head-on and we'd have to clarify."
Nevertheless, cable channels TNT and Turner South, both owned by AOL Time Warner, said they were proceeding with plans to air "Red Sonja," and "The Terminator" this month.