Broadcast Law Blog

Broadcast Law Blog

Tag Archives: equal time

FCC Decides that it will No Longer Enforce the Zapple Doctrine – Killing the Last Remnant of the Fairness Doctrine

Posted in Political Broadcasting
The Zapple Doctrine was an outgrowth of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine.  The Zapple Doctrine required that broadcast stations that give air time to the supporters of one candidate in an election give time to the supporters of competing candidates as well. Even though the Fairness Doctrine has been defunct for years, having had various manifestations … Continue Reading

Reminder – Most FCC Political Rules Apply to Off-Year Elections for State and Local Offices

Posted in Political Broadcasting
In odd years like 2013, most broadcasting stations don’t think about the FCC’s political broadcasting rules. But they should – both for special elections to fill open seats in Congress, and for state and local political offices. This week, the news has been full of stories about next week’s special election for Congress in South Carolina, pitting … Continue Reading

Sportscaster Running for Mayor In Chicago Suburb Taken Off the Air – Illustrating that the Equal Opportunities Rule Applies to State and Local Candidates

Posted in Political Broadcasting
A recent article in the Chicago Tribune demonstrates that the FCC’s Equal Opportunities requirements, as embodied in Section 315 of the Communications Act, apply to candidates for state and local elective office as well as to those for Federal office. We have written before about this obligation of stations to provide Equal Opportunities (sometimes referred to as … Continue Reading

Political Broadcasting Update Part 2 – Equal Opportunities

Posted in Political Broadcasting
Now that we are in the political window, we’re doing a series on the basics of the FCC’s political broadcasting rules. On Monday, we covered lowest unit charges. Today’s topic is equal opportunities. Many think of this as a straight-forward issue – just requiring that you provide equal time to competing candidates. But the nuances are what makes … Continue Reading

Donald Trump May Declare Presidential Candidacy on The Apprentice – FCC Legal Issues?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
This past week’s political news seemed to be all about Donald Trump and his possible run for the Presidency – and his plans to announce his intent to run on the season finale of The Apprentice.  When, a week ago, we wrote about the President declaring his candidacy, there was little interest in our post, and there seemed … Continue Reading

When Potential Candidates Like Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Harold Ford Are On Radio, TV and Cable – FCC Issues?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
The New York Times just ran an article on the number of radio and television commentators who are also potential political candidates, speculating on whether the appearance of these candidates on TV and cable talk shows, and on radio programs, give them an advantage in their future political careers.  That perceived TV bump might be most in … Continue Reading

Leaving the Air to Run For Office – What to Do With The Broadcaster Who Becomes a Candidate

Posted in Political Broadcasting
As we enter the 2010 election season, questions are beginning to arise about broadcast station on-air employees who decide to run for political office, and what a station needs to do about such employees to avoid issues under the FCC political broadcasting rules.  For instance, in Arizona, talk show host (and former Congressman) JD Hayworth … Continue Reading

What is the Impact on Broadcasters of Supreme Court Decision that Corporations Can Buy Political Ads? More Money, More Ad Challenges and the Return of the Zapple Doctrine

Posted in Fairness Doctrine, Political Broadcasting
The Supreme Court Decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, freeing corporations to use their corporate funds to take explicit positions on political campaigns, has been mostly analyzed by broadcast trade publications as a good thing – creating one more class of potential buyers for broadcaster’s advertising time during the political season – which seems … Continue Reading

David Oxenford and FCC’s Bobby Baker Prepare Broadcasters for 2010 Elections with Webinar on Political Broadcasting Rules

Posted in Appearances, Political Broadcasting
On November 10, Davis Wright Tremaine’s David Oxenford and Bobby Baker, the head of the FCC’s Office of Political Broadcasting, conducted a webinar on the FCC’s political broadcasting rules and policies.  The webinar originated from Lansing, Michigan, before an audience of Michigan Broadcasters, and was webcast to broadcasters in 13 other states.  Topics discussed included reasonable access, … Continue Reading

The Potential for the Return of the Fariness Doctrine and the FCC’s Assessment of the Quality of Broadcast News – What Would Walter Cronkite Think?

Posted in Fairness Doctrine, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
With much of the media world celebrating the life of Walter Cronkite this weekend, we have to wonder what he would have thought about press reports that the FCC is considering the commencement of a proceeding to investigate the status of broadcast journalism - assessing its quality, determining whether the Internet and other new sources are making up for any … Continue Reading

Reminder: Equal Time and Lowest Unit Rate Rules Apply to State and Municipal Elections

Posted in Political Broadcasting
While it seems like we just finished the election season, it seems like there is always an election somewhere.  We are still getting calls about municipal and other state and local elections that are underway.  And broadcasters need to remember that these elections, like the Federal elections that we’ve just been through, are subject to the … Continue Reading

Fairness Doctrine Back in the News (Part 1) – What’s It all About?

Posted in Fairness Doctrine, Political Broadcasting
Since the election of President Obama and the Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, the fears of the return of the Fairness Doctrine have been highlighted on talk radio, online, by emails and in conversations throughout the broadcast industry.  Even though President Obama had stated that he was not in favor of its return, … Continue Reading

Does McCain on Saturday Night Live Signal the End of Equal Time?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
The FCC Equal Time rule (or more properly the "equal opportunities" doctrine) requires that, when a broadcast stations gives one candidate airtime outside of an "exempt program" (essentially news or news interview programs, see our explanation here), it must give the opposing candidate equal time if that opposing candidate requests the time within 7 days of the … Continue Reading

If John McCain Doesn’t Show Up, Would Equal Opportunites Issues Prevent the Debate from Going On?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
Today’s announcement from John McCain that he is suspending his Presidential campaign to work on issues dealing with the economic bailout, and that he will not participate in Friday’s scheduled Presidential debate if the bailout package has not been enacted, raises an interesting question about the application of the FCC’s equal opportunities rules.  If Barack Obama … Continue Reading

No Candidate, No Fairness Doctrine and No Equal Time

Posted in Fairness Doctrine, Political Broadcasting
The New York Times ran an article about how certain African-American radio hosts were acting as cheerleaders for the Obama campaign, and contrasting that to past elections where talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh gave a boost to Republican candidates on their programs.  How is it that these programs can take political positions without triggering requirements that … Continue Reading

FCC Declares 700 Club and TMZ are Exempt From Equal Time – With Some Issues Left Unaddressed

Posted in Political Broadcasting
The FCC today provided two more examples of its policy that virtually any sort of interview program is going to be deemed a "bona fide news interview program" exempt from any claim of equal opportunities (or "equal time" as it is commonly referred to) if the program features an appearance by a political candidate. In the decisions … Continue Reading

On-Air Broadcast Stations Employees Who Run for Elective Office – Equal Time for Local Candidates

Posted in Political Broadcasting
In the last few weeks, I’ve received several calls from broadcasters about on-air employees who have decided to run for local political office, and the equal time obligations that these decisions can create.  Initially, it is important to remember that equal opportunities apply to state and local candidates, as well as Federal candidates.  And the rules apply … Continue Reading

FCC Rules Against Kucinich Request for Inclusion in CNN Presidential Debate

Posted in Political Broadcasting
The FCC has now joined the Nevada Courts (see our post here) in denying Dennis Kucinich entry into the Presidential debates.  In a decision released this week, the FCC found that they could not force CNN to include Kucinich in its Democratic Presidential Debate, as such an action would violate the First Amendment.  The FCC only … Continue Reading

Nevada Court Denies Kucinich Right to Participate in Broadcast Debate – Recognizing FCC’s Exclusive Role to Regulate Equal Opportunities in Political Debates

Posted in Political Broadcasting
In a wild series of legal decisions preceding the Democratic Presidential debate in Nevada, a Nevada judge ruled that MSNBC had to include Congressman Dennis Kucinich in its debate, only to be overruled by a decision of the Nevada Supreme Court released less than a hour before the debate was to begin.  Notably, the initial … Continue Reading

Live From New York – It’s 20 Seconds of Equal Opportunites?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
Joining Fred Thompson and Stephen Colbert (see our stories here and here), Presidential candidate Barack Obama appeared briefly on Saturday Night Live last night and delivered that iconic line – "Live From New York, It’s Saturday Night!"  But does his appearance trigger equal opportunities for television stations that aired the program and, if so, would any … Continue Reading

Stephen Colbert, Equal Opportunities and the Case of the Candidate Host

Posted in Political Broadcasting
2007 – the year of the television actor who decides to become a Presidential candidate.  We’ve already written about the issues under the FCC’s political broadcasting rules, particularly the equal opportunity doctrine, with the candidacy of Law and Order’s Fred Thompson, resulting in NBC replacing him on as the on-air District Attorney of New York City.  Now, … Continue Reading

Barack Obama and the Daily Show, Hillary Clinton and David Letterman, Fred Thompson and Law and Order – What About Equal Time?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
Every day, on almost every television channel, it seems as if you can find a presidential candidate making an appearance – and it’s not just on the Sunday morning political interview programs.  Last week, it was Hillary Clinton on the David Letterman Show (where her husband is scheduled to appear this week).  In the last two weeks, both Barack Obama and John … Continue Reading