Television network A&E has announced this week that they will be cancelling their hit-series Live P.D. in wake of George Floyd’s death and the political unrest in this country regarding police brutality against black Americans.
The series itself was already on hiatus amid the covid-19 pandemic, like many other television series that are unable to film due to health concerns. Now, the network announced that the hiatus would remain permanent out of respect to their black viewers.
“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD. Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them. And with that, we will be meeting with community and civil rights leaders as well as police departments,” the network said in a statement.
The cancellation decision was made by A&E and MGM’s Big Fish Entertainment, which is the production company that has always produced the series. Live P.D. isn’t the only reality-police television series getting the boot amid these worldwide protests against racism. The announcement of Live P.D.’s cancellation came just one day after the Paramount Network announced that they would be cancelling Cops; the show originally aired in 1989.
Initially, the plan was going to be to keep Live P.D. in its hiatus until they could have extended conversations with the community, police, and fans on the best way to keep the show alive while still respecting the protesters fighting for basic human rights across the nation. Ultimately, the network and production decided a complete cancellation was the only way.
This decision came after members of production realized there was no way to continue the show in its current form especially when protesters, politicians, and celebrities with massive platforms are all calling for a complete overhaul of the police system.
Live P.D. has always been controversial, as black viewers often felt it purposefully demonized individuals of color while praising the officers for their aggressive means of arrest. More specifically, in March of 2019 Javier Ambler was murdered during a police stop which has been allegedly captured by the crew of Live P.D.; the video has since been destroyed.
That incident, however, barely impacted the network or show. In fact, before these nationwide protests began two weeks ago, A&E had actually renewed the series for another 160 episodes. This makes sense, as Live P.D. was cable’s #1 show on Fridays and Saturdays in 2019, and actually boosted the network ratings so much that A&E became one of the leading cable networks.
During the pandemic especially, the show received a massive spike in viewership, along with many other cable television programs. The show was receiving about 3 million viewers every weekend.
The host of the show, Dan Abrams, took to Twitter to express his disappointment in the decision to cancel, as he genuinely believed the network would be able to work out a solution. However, Abrams and fans were left disappointed. The future of all other police related television shows are still up in the air, but after Cops, which has been on for three decades, was cancelled, many programs aren’t so confident. Like all things pandemic related, only time will tell what the future holds for authoritative related television programming.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.