LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – A&E has decided not to run new episodes of “Live PD” this Friday and Saturday, while Paramount Network has delayed the Season 33 launch of “Cops,” the long-running reality series that was scheduled to return on Monday.
The decision to hold “Live PD” and “Cops” comes as protests over police brutality continue across the nation following the killing of George Floyd by Minnesota police officers, shining a spotlight on the widespread abuse by law enforcement against African Americans. This weekend A&E will air episodes of “Live Rescue” in its place.
“Out of respect for the families of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives, in consultation with the departments we follow, and in consideration for the safety of all involved, we have made the decision not to broadcast ‘Live PD’ this weekend,” A&E said in a statement.
Paramount Network hasn’t yet commented on the fate of Monday’s “Cops” episode, but its program schedule no longer shows it airing as planned at 10 p.m. ET; “Ghostbusters” is now scheduled there instead. Paramount made the shift over a week ago, as “Cops” also didn’t air this past Monday in its normal spot. And Paramount appears to not have future plans for “Cops” on the network. Already, the show is no longer mentioned anywhere on the channel’s website.
Paramount Network owner ViacomCBS made headlines earlier this week when on Monday the company’s cable networks went dark for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time that the Minneapolis police officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck, killing him in the process.
“Cops” launched on Fox in 1989, and is considered one of the originators of the modern reality TV movement. But in recent years, it has also come under fire for how it depicts law enforcement, and for questionable behind the scenes practices.
Reality Blurred’s Andy Dehnart, who wrote a recent piece about police-based reality TV on his website, was the first to report Paramount’s decision to pull Monday’s “Cops” premiere.
“Cops” was the subject of a recent podcast hosted by Dan Taberski, “Running from Cops,” which chronicled hundreds of episodes of the show. Taberski and his team detailed instances where people were coerced into signing waivers and how production allows police to edit and remove anything that might paint them in a negative light.
“Cops” aired for 25 seasons on Fox, which was still in its infancy when the show first premiered. The network aired “Cops” together with “America’s Most Wanted” on Saturday nights for 14 years; “Most Wanted” moved to Lifetime in 2011 and was eventually canceled.
“Cops,” meanwhile, got a new lease on life in 2013 when Spike TV ordered new episodes and paired them with repeats. (Spike was rebranded as Paramount Network in 2018.)
Meanwhile, “Live PD” has been a tremendous hit for A&E since its premiere in October 2016. The show follows cops and sheriffs — live, in real time, as they patrol various cities and counties across the country. As it turned into a sensation, A&E kept expanding the show’s footprint; it’s now the No. 1 series on cable on Friday and Saturday nights. After taking a break in the early spring due to a COVID-19 production shutdown, it returned in April.