Earlier this week, John Oliver expressed his strong views against Brexit, Thursday’s referendum that would remove the United Kingdom from the European Union, in a video that has since gone viral, with more than 3 million views on YouTube alone:
Last Week Tonight typically airs on the British television network Sky Atlantic on Monday nights. The latest episode, which includes Oliver’s 15-minute rant on the Brexit referendum, has been pushed back to air Thursday night at 10:10 pm, after polls have closed. This means UK voters might not see Oliver’s argument until it is no longer relevant.
In a statement, a Sky Atlantic spokesperson said the move comes in response to broadcast neutrality rules:
Sky have complied with the Ofcom broadcasting restrictions at times of elections and referendums that prohibit us showing this section of [Last Week Tonight] at this moment in time. We will be able to show it once the polls close have closed on Thursday […]
According to the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the UK’s communications regulator, broadcasting companies must abide by a strict code, which includes "special impartiality requirements" when it comes to content shown at the time of elections. The code states that Oliver’s rant must provide a counterargument to his point to avoid "the exclusion of views or opinions."
Despite insistence that the postponement is strictly for legal reasons, the company has already received backlash on social media. Some suspect Sky, owned by conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, specifically doesn’t want to air Oliver’s anti-Brexit rhetoric before the referendum is over.
John Oliver's Brexit piece, aired on Rupert Murdoch's Sky Atlantic, isn't being aired until Thursday (usually on tonight). Can't think why.— Chris Brosnahan (@ChrisBrosnahan) June 20, 2016
John Oliver does a piece on #Brexit and Sky Atlantic moves the Monday night showing to Thursday? Damn Murdoch...— Iain Boyd (@BoydIain) June 20, 2016
Though the episode will not air until Thursday night, the rules of Ofcom do not apply to the internet, so UK viewers will be able to stream the video online before casting their vote.