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October 13, 2015

Thompson gone from NBC, but not TNT

by Adam Finley, posted Sep 3rd 2007 4:01PM

fred thompsonFred Thompson's plans to announce his candidacy for the 2008 presidential race once again brings up the question of "equal time" provisions that are in place to assure a single candidate is not given more airtime on television than anyone else.

Thompson, a Republican and former Tennessee senator, played DA Arthur Branch on NBC's Law and Order for five seasons. NBC, in keeping with the provisions, has stopped airing episodes that feature Thompson, but TNT, whose schedule overflows with Law and Order reruns, will keep airing the Thompson episodes.

Why? Apparently, the rules are somewhat ambiguous. They were first put into practice in the early days of cable television when most households only watched broadcast television, so it's never been clear if the same rules should apply to cable networks. TNT said it wouldn't discuss the decision, but considering how much the network relies on Law and Order for the bulk of its non-primetime programming, it's understandable why it would want to hold on to those episodes.

The only question now is whether any of the other candidates will step forward to challenge this. I would suggest using digital technology to insert the other candidates into these old episodes, too: Giuliani could play a murder victim, Huckabee could be duplicated twelve times and make up an entire jury . . . the possibilities are endless.

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Lorie Jacobs

I realize noone will ever see this comment since it's a month after the story ran and all... But I have to say I'm watching Fred Thompson looking pretty presidential right now on TNT at 7pm on a Wednesday when nothing else is on... I'm quite sure I'm not the only one watching TNT's primetime lineup. I don't really care who wins the Republican primary because I'm pretty sure a Democrat is going to beat whoever they've got, but it doesn't seem exactly kosher to me.

October 10 2007 at 9:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joey Geraci

I'm sorry for the right-wingers that have invaded the thread, but the equal time doctrine makes perfect sense, and it most definitely applies here. Anything that keeps the man in the eyes (and minds) of potential voters is an advantage that Romney, Huckabee, Clinton, etc. won't have.

There are far more stories on the 6'o'clock news about if America is "ready" for a woman president than any fluff pieces, I can assure you.

As far as people "voting" with their remotes. Let me remind you that there is a very long period in our country where the majority of the population wouldn't have wanted to see any African, Asian, etc.-Americans in any role but one that strongly enforced stereotypes. These same people would have voted for segregation and, at one time, slavery (even in the North). Government takes away certain decisions from the public for it's own good, and equal time is an example of this.

September 04 2007 at 12:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't see how equal time here applies. Fred Thompson is not getting extra time on TV to campaign when they play reruns of Law and Order. It's his character that's on the screen, NOT Fred Thompson.

September 04 2007 at 11:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

On one hand, Fred Thompson is never going to win, on the other, this sets new precedent. I'm not so sure the law is antiquated. It was put there so that candidates have an equal chance against one another. If it really doesn't matter, then maybe Martin Sheen should run.

September 03 2007 at 10:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow, if that's the picture FOX is using I shutter to think what the rest of them look like.

September 03 2007 at 9:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adam Finley

Like I do with most of the pictures I use, I just went with the first one I found.

And I found this one on a story on FoxNews.com.

September 03 2007 at 8:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Equal time laws are antiquated and go against the principles of free speech. Some Big Brother minion at the FCC deciding what constitutes equal time and which views get to be aired for how long is a scary thing. We vote with our remote for which views we want to hear.

I agree, could you have found a less flattering picture of Thompson? Is this the Daily Show or something?

September 03 2007 at 8:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If only Elisabeth Rohm was running for president and they couldn't air those episodes...

September 03 2007 at 6:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

you couldn't find a more goofy picture of Thompson?

Macguffin, thats really intelligent to say. Hey, all older white men are creepy right? Let's elect the coolest hippest youngest looking non older white guy running. That always works.

September 03 2007 at 6:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Roger Rees

Any rule regarding "equal" time is totally unnecessary in this day and age. If the ABC 6:00 news spends ten minutes on Hillary, they have to spend ten minutes on Romney. Of course, the Hillary minutes will be gushing, glowing, idol-worshipping minutes; and the Romney minutes will be slamming him, his wife, and his religion (and probably George Bush, too). But hey, the time will be equal, right?

It's as useless and unnecessary as the fairness doctrine.

September 03 2007 at 6:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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