Equal Time Not Equal For Broadcast And Cable
Although NBC has said that it will stop airing all Law & Order episodes featuring Fred Thompson following the actor's announcement Thursday that he will officially declare his intention to run for president next week, TNT, the cable channel running reruns of the series, said it will not follow suit. Several news reports suggested that TNT may be defying FCC's "equal time" regulation by airing the Thompson episodes. Broadcasting & Cable, for example, said that although the regulation -- Section 315 -- "has not previously applied to cable systems, some cable networks have reportedly taken steps to avoid triggering the rule and setting a precedent." Writing about the Law & Order programs featuring Thompson, former FCC Chairman Nicholas Johnson said on his blog recently that the rule, as it might affect cable networks, is ambiguous and that Congress ought either to redefine "appearance" to exclude entertain meant programs or that the FCC specifically apply the "equal time" standard to cable.