TV host Mehmet Oz is officially running for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat, and as a result, his long-running talk show will no longer air — at least in Philadelphia.
Fox decided Tuesday to remove The Dr. Oz Show from the airwaves in the Philadelphia and New York City markets, according to a spokesperson. For now, Fox 29 will air a rerun of the 9 a.m. hour of Good Day, Philadelphia during the 2 p.m. timeslot
The move comes as questions remain about the future of Oz’s show. During an interview on Fox News Tuesday night, host Sean Hannity alluded to Oz’s show ending by noting the host stands to take a big hit financially. But Oz hasn’t addressed whether his show will continue to air directly, and Sony Pictures Television is evaluating options on how to move forward, according to a spokesperson. The website for his show currently redirects to his campaign website.
The Dr. Oz Show premiered in 2009, thanks in large part to the celebrity doctor’s appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s show. Over the years, Oz has been criticized for promoting questionable diet pills and unscientific medical advice. In 2020, he made regular appearances on Fox News and promoted the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a way to treat COVID-19, despite the lack of scientific evidence.
The Dr. Oz Show airs on six stations in Pennsylvania, and federal broadcast rules create a major headache for stations that choose to continue to air it across the commonwealth.
According to attorney David Oxenford, an expert in broadcast law, equal time regulations from the Federal Communication Commission would allow Oz’s opponents to request equal access to the public airwaves. Currently, that would only include his Republican primary opponents — Montgomery County developer Jeff Bartos, conservative commentator Kathy Barnette, and former ambassador Carla Sands.
This is nothing new for Hollywood. During Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial run in California in 2003, his movies were taken off TV stations across the state, according to Oxenford. The same was true for former President Ronald Reagan, who was an actor before he became a politician.
When Fred Thompson, himself a former U.S. senator, flirted with a presidential run in 2007, NBC was prepared to stop airing reruns of every episode of Law & Order he appeared in as District Attorney Arthur Branch. But TNT, a cable channel, was not bound by the FCC’s rules and could continue to air Thompson’s television shows and movies because it doesn’t use the public airwaves to broadcast.
The Oz situation is unusual. There is no legal requirement for Oz to suspend his show, and the FCC’s rules only apply where he’s running for office — his Pennsylvania opponents can’t seek equal time for shows that air in other states.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Pam Forsyth, the general manager of WICU-TV in Erie, which airs Oz’s show. “This is unusual.”
Andrew Wyatt, the vice president and general manager of WBRE-TV in Wilkes-Barre, hadn’t made firm plans how to handle the situation as of Tuesday afternoon. Oz’s show also airs in the Harrisburg, Johnstown, and Pittsburgh markets. Representatives for those stations did not respond to requests for comment.
While the immediate future for Oz’s show remains unclear, it appears Sony does have some plans in the works if Oz ends up winning the Republican primary and spends nearly all of 2022 on the campaign trail.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Oz’s oldest daughter, Daphne, would take over her father’s time slots in mid-January with a show called The Good Dish. Daphne, who was born in Philadelphia, is a judge on Fox’s MasterChef Junior and was previously a co-host on ABC’s The Chew.