It’s June – which for the last five years has typically meant a new season of “Whale Wars” on Animal Planet. Noticeably absent however this time around is the promotional material we generally get from the network hyping up the new season. And, now we know why.
According to the New Yorker, “Whale Wars” season six has been pushed back to fall – or worse, possibly even early 2014. It’s an interesting development that doesn’t appear tied to any one issue. Captain Paul Watson briefly mentions that Japan has been threatening the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet with lawsuits. Hasn’t that been happening since season one? Unless Japan’s strategy has changed, a delay of a few months due to pressure from abroad doesn’t make sense.
“Whale Wars” is very much a solid performer for Animal Planet in the ratings department, so clearly there’s something going on behind-the-scenes. The delay may also be tied to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s court battles in the U.S. In another part of the interview, Watson mentions that the I.R.S. is also once again targeting the group.
New Yorker: But the pressure has been ratcheting up for some time; Sea Shepherd has had problems maintaining its nonprofit tax status, too?
Watson: Yeah, that’s very interesting, because the I.R.S. is coming after us. We’ve already had two audits. A couple of years ago, WikiLeaks released a diplomatic cable showing that Monica Medina, the U.S. representative to the International Whaling Commission, was working out a deal with the Japanese government—they want Sea Shepherd shut down in the United States, and they wanted our tax status pulled. And it looked like Monica Medina was saying that she could do that. And I had to remind them that it is a crime in the United States—for the United States to use the I.R.S. as a weapon against a nonprofit organization at the request of a foreign government, and that’s what they’re doing. They backed off, but now the I.R.S. is coming after us again.
Whatever the reasons for the delay, we’re happy that – as of right now – it appears that Animal Planet is still committed to running with season six. Based on the footage we’ve seen from Sea Shepherd’s new film crew, the quality is excellent and the drama intense.
Let’s just hope it lands in our living rooms before the next campaign kicks off in December.