Fred 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? Because of the FCC's equal time rules, says The Washington Post. It's a fairness policy that the governing body has had for decades; it ensures that every candidate in a political race has an equal opportunity to promote themselves. The rule doesn't apply to newscasts, interview shows, and news-oriented events (like debates, I'd imagine), but it definitely applies to entertainment shows like L&O. This isn't a unique circumstance; the article cites Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronald Reagan as two candidates whose movies were pulled from TV during their political campaigns.
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